Sunday, September 26, 2010
By Carol O'Connell
Kathy Mallory was a street kid who was adopted by a compassionate policeman and his wife. They did their best to instill values into the girl but she never fully recovered from the hard life of her early years. Yet, despite her criminal tendencies, Mallory chose a career in law enforcement. Due to her excellence with computers and hacking, she worked behind the scenes, she didn't go on patrol or on investigations. But when her adoptive father is murdered while he is investigating a series of killings, Mallory sets out to take over her father's investigation and track down his killer. She has been given compassionate leave from her work for the police force so her investigation is done without police authorization or approval. She teams up with a friend of her father's, Charles Butler, and together they try to understand how an experienced cop like her father could let a suspect get the best of him. Their investigation is oddly tangled up in the building where Charles lives and the ring of rich elderly women who have been and are the potential victims of a serial killer. Also involved is psychic, an insider-trading scheme, and an elderly cousin of Charles' who seems harmless but who is hiding an treacherous heart. Danger abounds but Mallory believes her criminal instincts and her intellectual prowess will keep her from the same fate that overtook her father. However, her inexperience just may be her Achilles heel.
In this story, Mallory is portrayed as cold, emotionless and duplicitous. She doesn't weep for her murdered father. It makes it kind of hard to really identify with the main character. The plot has lots of red herrings, what with the insider trading and the vicious psychic, Charles' weird relatives, the odd tenants of the apartment building, and the wealthy victims' heirs. It is so convoluted it was hard for me to follow what was going on, just too much to keep track of. Also, so many of the characters in this story are strange, twisted people, including the main character, Mallory. It was like visiting a side show at the carnival, sordid and distasteful. It was a weird story and I can't say that I really enjoyed reading it.
By Frederik Pohl
Book 3 of the Eschaton Sequence
In the conclusion of the trilogy, Dan finds himself captive once again, but this time he is being held by the Horch, one of the few species that have been able to resist the Scarecrows, also known as the Beloved Leaders. His Horch captors subject him to rigorous interrogations similar to what he endured as a prisoner of the Scarecrows. But when he has been wrung dry of all he knows he is released back onto the prison planet where he had been held by the Scarecrows and put under the care of a small community of freed Docs, one of the Scarecrow enslaved races. Also on the planet is a group of freed Horch who have lived there as captives for generations. Dan develops a good relationship with one of these Horch, Beert, and it is through Beert that Dan, Beert, one of the Docs and another alien end up on a transit station located on the edge of the universe. The station has been liberated by the Horch and from the station Dan, the Doc & Beert are able to get transferred to a transit portal inside a Scarecrow submarine off the shores of New York.
Dan, the Doc, Beert and a couple of Horch robots are able to capture the sub. Dan then turns the sub over to the authorities but finds himself (and his alien allies) once again retained for interrogation. At least this time he isn't tortured. And the food is marginally better. He learns that Earth is aware of the threat posed by the Scarecrows who have promised to destroy the Earth if the people of Earth do not surrender. Dan tells them that the Scarecrows have the power to send an asteroid crashing into the Earth or that they could cause our sun to go nova. But he is reassured that the governments of Earth are on top of it and have taken steps to protect the Earth from asteroid strikes and that our sun is not the type that can go nova. But Dan completely forgets to inform them of the third weapon in the Scarecrows' arsenal: methane liberated from the ocean depths which will blanket the Earth in a cloud of poison gas.
This was a good, imaginative story. The Horch, who should be our allies against the Scarecrows, are pretty intimidating and implacable. It isn't until Dan meets the more backward Horch who have been held captive for such a long time on the prison planet that he is able to finally make a connection with a Horch. The Horch are not appealing to look at, but Pohl manages to make them interesting and somewhat sympathetic, especially the one who becomes Dan friend and who gives up everything to help Dan get back home.
I enjoyed this book a lot, it's a lively and fascinating story with lots of intriguing aliens.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
By Terry Pratchett
This is Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A'Tuin, the sky turtle...Discworld exists right on the edge of reality.
Discworld is a place of magic and has all the usual magical creatures, like vampires, werewolves, trolls, witches and wizards. In this story, the focus is on five witches: the maiden (Magrat), the mother (Nanny Ogg), the crone (Granny Weatherwax), Mrs. Gogol (Voodoo queen), and the "other" one (Lily). Magrat has just inherited a magic wand and with it the responsibilities of a fairy godmother. (In Discworld, you apparently don't have to be a fairy to be a fairy godmother.) Along with the wand came instructions that she and Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax were to journey to Genua to help out Princess Emberella, the fairy god-daughter. Lily is very attached to stories and is using magic and mirrors to make fairy tales come true and she is determined that Emberella will marry the Prince, even though Emberella is dead set against it. The other four witches will band together to face the awesome powers of Lily, the mad, bad witch who believes she is the good guy and is determined that everything shall be done her way. There will be zombies, voodoo dolls, frog princes and there will even be brief appearances by a vampire who runs afoul of Nanny Ogg's mean tomcat Greebo, and Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad wolf, who turns out to be a starving, pathetic victim of Lily's obsession with stories.
I always enjoy Discworld stories and this is no exception. The three witches, Magrat, Nanny Ogg and her cat Greebo, and Granny Weatherwax are always fun to read about as they have their adventures in Discworld and this story certainly has its moments of high comedy. The Discworld series is one of the best fantasy series ever. It doesn't take itself seriously, it is quirky, amusing and just a whole lot of fun. Discworld Forever!
Monday, September 20, 2010
By Alan Dean Foster
The Quozl are aliens from another planet who end up on our planet. The Quozl used to be a very violent, warlike people but who have learned to control themselves. They look somewhat like rabbits and they also breed like rabbits. And even though they have mastered birth control, they are still very crowded on their home world, so crowded that sending ark ships out to unknown planets is considered to be worth the risk. Believing themselves to be the sole intelligent beings in the galaxy, they are surprised to find their new home is already occupied. Since their ships are not designed to return home, they have no choice but to land. Being the clever engineers they are, they land the ship in a mountain valley and cover it up with rock and soil in a way that completely disguises it.
Exploring their new home, they happen upon a ranch house and, while investigating it, are forced to kill the rancher when he starts shooting at them. After this bad outcome, they decide to remain hidden underground for the time being.
One day a Quozl child, chaffing against the restrictions about going above ground, sneaks away from the Burrow and has an encounter with a human child who saves him from drowning. They become friends and meet every summer to renew the friendship. The child's sister finds out about the Quozl kid and she comes to know him too. They promise to keep the Quozl's secret.
But when the two human kids grow up, the sister creates a cartoon show based on the Quozls, breaking her promise to keep the secret. Even worse, she tells her boyfriend and the Quozls are exposed.
This was an OK story. The picture on the front showed a bunch of goofy-looking Quozls exploring a human dwelling. The description in the book of the Quozls with their big rabbit ears; big feet; garish, colorful clothing and overdone accessories sort of imply that this is going to be a humorous book. It isn't. The Quozls take themselves very seriously, what with the blood-thirsty history and all. So that was disappointing. Also, the Quozls are so superior to humans, with their logic and their self-control that they are presented as the answer to all our problems. They just are not very appealing even despite their rampant sexuality, which we find out towards the end also extends to humans. They have to have sex several times a day or they become stressed out. But even that could bring to this story the lighthearted tone it was aching for. It was an interesting story but not amusing and too preachy for my taste.
I kept waiting for the fun to begin but it never did.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
By Russell Baker
Russell Baker's mother Lucy Elizabeth always wanted a better life for her son than the one she had. She came from a prosperous family that fell on hard times. She had even been attending college but had to quit to go to work as a teacher. This was how she met Benny, the man who became Baker's father. Benny's family were country folk that didn't believe in higher education. Most of them left school before graduating from grade school. If Baker's mother hadn't become pregnant, she might have thought twice about marrying a man from a background so different from her own. But she did become pregnant (with the author) and Benny's mother never forgave her for trapping her son into marriage.
But Benny Baker was not a well man. It was the 1920s and he was a diabetic. At the time there was no treatment for this disease. Plus Baker liked to drink moonshine even though he became violently ill afterward. In fact, that is what killed him when Russell was only five years old.
So Russell's mom was left to raise her young family all on her own. This was at the beginning of the Great Depression and opportunities for work for a young, single mother were nil. So she moved her family to New Jersey to live with her brother and his wife.
Baker's mom was a woman of determination and one of the things she was determined to do was make a good man out of Russell. But Russell was not as driven and ambitious as his mother would have liked. She forced various jobs on him such as selling magazines and newspapers and she worked with him after school, helping him with his homework and using her experience as a teacher to help him achieve better grades than he might have under his own steam. In fact, his grades were high enough to get him a scholarship to attend college, that is until the United States was dragged into World War II. Russell enlisted in the Navy and became a pilot but never flew any combat missions to his youthful disappointment. After the war he returned to college. And after college he got a job on a newspaper which led to great success later in life. His mother must have been very proud that all her struggles to put her son on the right track paid off.
This was a very interesting book. So many years after the fact, we forget what life was like during the Great Depression. We forget what a struggle it was for many people just to get by. Baker's book makes clear the suffering that many people had to endure and just how hard it was to find enough money to pay the rent and buy groceries, never mind fancy stuff like new clothes and health care. But even more than the trip back to a harder, more desperate time, this book is a look at the relationship of a son and a mother of opposite personalities. Russell portrays himself as a born slacker and his mother as the relentless force behind him that pushed him into success. It's a tremendously interesting memoir of growing up in hard times, very well done.
By Carl Hiaasen
These anti-development terrorists start killing tourists in Florida. Their plan is to frighten people so much that they go back to where the came from: New York, Iowa, all the cold, snowy places people fled from to begin with. The terrorists want to return Florida to the natural paradise it was before it was developed.
So that's the premise of this book. We get to read about the murder of an old, helpless woman who was snatched while walking her little dog. Her crime: retiring to Florida. Her punishment: being fed alive to a crocodile.
I hated this book. It was just too callous and mean for me.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
By Colleen McCullough
Missy lives with her mother and aunt. Due to Missy's dad dying young and leaving them unprovided for, all they have ever known is poverty. Missy has grown up to be a shy, thin, submissive woman, ground down by poverty.
In the back country town in which they live in Australia, a relative of theirs is planning a grand wedding to the young heir of a large fortune based on the local bottled water business. As relatives of this family business, Missy and her mom and aunt have shares in the business, shares for which they have never received any dividends, having been repeatedly told that the bottling company is not making any money. And yet the largest shareholders live in wealth and privilege.
Missy likes to read but her mother has asked the local librarian to restrict her daughter's reading materials to worthy and uplifting books. And even though Missy is now a grown woman no longer in her first youth, she accepts these limitations. But now there is a new librarian and she introduces Missy to romance novels in which winsome young women have exciting adventures in the pursuit of true love. These novels give poor downtrodden Missy a glimpse at a different way of life than the one she has always known and she starts to think for herself.
Invited to a party at the engaged woman's house, Missy overhears the woman and her friend sneering not only at Missy but at her mom and her aunt too. When the woman sends her a dress to wear to the wedding because Missy doesn't have anything nice to wear, Missy, in anger, dumps the dress into the pigsty and, after it is all dirty and mucky, she takes it back to the woman.
Also, there is an intriguing new man in town, and unlikely as it may be, skinny, old-maid Missy has decided that he is the man for her. And she is going to do her best to get him even if she has to stalk him, lie to him and trick him. Because Missy is thinking for finally herself, with the help of a few trashy novels and her new librarian friend.
This was a pretty good story. There were things about it that I didn't care for or even approve of but to go into detail would give away too much of the plot. It starts out as ordinary fiction but in the end it turns into a kind of fantasy. Overall I liked it but with reservations.
By Jeff Foxworthy
Foxworthy looks back on his growing-up days and relates lots of funny stories about his relatives, his friends and himself. As it quickly becomes apparent, a lot of his "Redneck" jokes are based on things he saw or heard about or even did himself. Reading about the things he and his friends used to get up to makes me wonder not if they were rednecks, but if they were completely bonkers.
This is funny stuff. Laugh-out-loud funny, in fact. I enjoyed the book tremendously. And there are some handy quizzes in the back for the reader take to expose out their own redneckedness.
However, I am going to label this book as fiction too, because I just don't believe some of the stories he tells in the book. They have just got to be made-up.
By Tony Hillerman
Albert Gorman is looking for his brother Leroy. Albert and Leroy are both criminals from Los Angeles, although they are of Navajo heritage, they are city-raised. The crime boss they work for has been indited and Leroy is the main witness against him. So the FBI has taken the precaution of relocating him away from Los Angeles and Alfred is trying to find his brother. The only clue he has is a photograph he received in the mail and this had led him to Shiprock, New Mexico. But while trying to find Leroy, Albert has a confrontation with another man from Los Angeles and they both get shot. The man dies but Albert manages to drive away.
And this is where Jim Chee comes into the picture. As a Navajo and a policeman, he is naturally going to have a role to play in any investigation, even one involving the FBI. And his investigation leads him to the hogan of a relative of Albert's. Surveying the hogan, it is pretty clear to the knowing eyes of a man like Chee that the relative is a person who follows the traditional ways. It is also clear that someone has died in the hogan and, as is the Navajo way, the hogan has now been abandoned, contaminated by the ghost of whoever died there. Which just doesn't make sense to Jim because he knows that, as it becomes apparent that a person is dying, a wise Navajo would move the dying person outside, thus saving his home from contamination by the dead person's ghost. Yet Albert's relative didn't do this and thus lost a very snug, well-situated, nice hogan. And when Jim finds the body of the dead man, Albert, he notices that the body has not been properly prepared as a traditional Navajo would do. Again, this is contrary to the obviously traditional character of the owner of the hogan.
But this is an FBI case, and they prefer to handle it themselves. Jim Chee has a new case, a teenage runaway, the granddaughter of the man who owned the hogan. She is also tied into the murder case and Chee ends up trailing her from the hogan to Los Angeles and back to New Mexico, finally running her down at a ceremony to heal her from the contamination she experienced by entering the abandoned hogan. But it seems that Chee is not the only one interested in locating the girl. The gang from Los Angeles is also gunning for her. But what does she know that is so dangerous that she must killed? Before Jim Chee can figure this out not only will her life be at risk, but his own life will be on the line too.
This was a very good story. I like the Jim Chee character and it is interesting to follow him as he struggles with his conflicting desires of whether to move into the mainstream and make his Anglo girlfriend happy or to remain on the reservation and pursue his interest in learning the old traditional ceremonies and make himself happy. As always, Hillerman's depictions of the Navajo way are fascinating and captivating and a large part of the charm of his books is the background of Navajo culture.
Sometimes Hillerman's plots can be a little complicated, but this story is pretty straight forward. Frankly, I think that makes for a better read. I find convoluted plots confusing and hard to follow. And I think The Ghostway is one of the best of the Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee novels. I really liked it.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
By Laura Dave
Emmy faces the truth that her fiance doesn't really love her and so one morning, while they are on a trip, she takes off her engagement ring, leaves it on her pillow and walks away. She finds a job at a tackle shop in the area and just kind of exists for the next three years.
Her brother is getting married and Emmy goes home to attend the wedding. While there she discovers that her brother is in love with someone other than his fiance. They get into a disagreement over whether he should go ahead with the wedding, Emmy saying he should be honest with the wife-to-be and the brother not wanting to hurt her by cancelling the wedding. Meanwhile, Emmy gets interested in an old friend of her brother's and this man seems interested in her too. But the old lover shows up, and Emmy begins to think they could make another go of it.
This was an OK book. Pretty typical of chick lit. Girl loves wrong boy. They break up. Girl meets new boy, possible love connection, but wrong boy comes back into the picture. Girl realizes she is messing up her life, not only in the romance department, and that wrong boy is not for her and new boy is the right one. She straightens out and gets back on track and makes her new love connection. End of story, girl is wiser and more centered now. Eh.
I read this book because on the back it is described as "a triumph," "a delicious comedy of manners," "fine, funny, surprising," "suspenseful," and "immensely appealing." It wasn't any of these things. It was just another ordinary book in the chick lit genre.
Monday, September 06, 2010
By Thomas Page
After an earthquake, strange bugs appear. They are hard, black, beetle-like bugs that chirp like a cricket. And they can start fires. They start fires because they eat pure carbon.
Naturally, people have to eliminate this new threat. But these bugs seem totally resistant to pesticide. Also, since they eat carbon they are quickly transported around the country in vehicle exhaust systems.
Scientists are frantically studying the bugs to figure out how to kill them. But one scientist takes a shine to the bugs. He is the one who discovers that the bugs are not beetles but are a kind of cockroach. He is also the one who figures out how to kill them. But he is also the one who proceeds to breed a new bug, a cross between a hissing roach and the fire roaches. But these hybrid bugs are a whole lot smarter than any bugs humankind has ever encountered. And they don't like people trying to get rid of them.
This science fiction horror story was pretty good. The bugs are certainly strange and different, almost like something from another world. The story is mostly about the reclusive scientist who gets way too interested in these bugs and lets his scientific curiosity override his better judgment, wreaking havoc on his town and neighbors in the process. The only problem I had with the book were the rather detailed descriptions of the bug's innards. I don't really want to know about the internal structure of a cockroach, even if it is a superbug. But, overall I enjoyed the book.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
By Louis Begley
Maciek was born in Poland in 1933, the son of a successful and prosperous Jewish physician. Right from the start, though, life was a struggle. His mother died giving birth to him. Her older sister, his aunt Tania, stepped in to help care for and raise Maciek. But Tania was a strong, independent woman who perhaps was a bit unavailable to her young charge. A sweet Polish girl became Maciek's nanny, but as the German's start their pogrom against the Jews and it becomes more acceptable to openly hate and revile Jews, the girl's father removes her from Maciek's home as he doesn't want her lowering herself to work for Jews.
As the crisis deepens and Maciek's father heads for Russia, Maciek and Tania, with the grandfather's help try to maintain their home and dignity. When the Germans arrive, Tania develops a relationship with a sympathetic German officer who arranges an apartment for them and they also acquire fake papers identifying them as Catholic Poles. They eventually have to flee and move to Warsaw, moving from apartment to apartment, living on the money and jewelry Tania brought with them. They get caught in the Polish uprising in Warsaw and are almost packed off to a concentration camp but Tania is able to charm and bamboozle a German officer into letting her and Maciek board a train to another town. The two end up working for Polish peasants, milking cows, digging vegetables, selling bootleg vodka. They even manage to locate Maciek's grandfather, but just as they hope to see him again, he is killed.
All this happened to Maciek at a very young age and although his aunt constantly drills him on the necessity of passing as Christian Poles, little Maciek is troubled by all the deceit and lies. Forced to pretend to be Christian, Maciek finds himself studying with a priest for his first communion. He feels guilty and sad that he cannot make a perfect act of contrition because to do so would be to reveal all the lies and risk his and Tania's very lives. He finds the unending subterfuge a heavy burden, but, even in his struggles, he remembers and he is successful at maintaining his fake identity.
His story is told by his older self, a middle-aged man, who is still struggling with the events and memories of that terrible time in the formative years of a young boy's life.
This captivating and astonishing story is based on the author's own experiences as a Jewish boy in Poland during World War II. He and his mother went through the same trials as Maciek and managed to survive. It's a very moving and personal look at two people doing the all they have to do to make it out alive. I found it very interesting and it is the kind of story that stays with you long after you have read it.
By Plum Sykes
Ah, New York high society! Where the haves have it all and yet want more, more, more! Dripping with jewels, the latest designer clothes and accessories, groomed and doctored to the nth degree, these fashion butterflies are never content, never satisfied that they are all they can be. So when our heroine notices that girls who are engaged have a lovely glow about themselves, she figures the only way to get that same look is to find a PH or potential husband. And the search is on.
Well, finding a husband turns out not to be so easy. Yeah, she gets engaged right away to an up-and-coming handsome young photographer. But, before too long, her dream date turns into a callous cad and the engagement is over. Our heroine gets so depressed she tries to off herself with an overdose of over-the-counter pain pills, but only succeeds in making herself sick.
But things are looking way up when she meets a handsome, charming, seductive prince. He is everything she is looking for in a mate except for one thing...he has a wife and three kids. Maybe our heroine should listen to her mummy and take a serious look at the boy next door, the little Earl, whom Mummy has been trying to get her daughter together with since they were kids.
This was an OK book, it even has its funny moments. Of course, it is pretty clear from the beginning who the girl will end up with, but that's typical of romance novels, which this is, in its uptown, Park Avenue way. The only problem I really had with it was its heavy emphasis on fashion. Fashion is a closed book to me, I don't even know what a kitten heel is, so all the fashion references meant nothing to me. Still, you don't have to know fashion to know that the women in this book live and die by it and their obsession is not only funny but also kind of sad.
Friday, September 03, 2010
By Jennifer Roberson
What do you do if raiders swoop down on your village, slaughter its inhabitants, take you captive and sell your little brother as a slave? Well, if you are Del, you manage escape and then you dedicate yourself to becoming a fierce sword fighter in order to eventually track down your lost little brother.
After being a student of the sword, young and beautiful Del is fully capable of taking care of herself and she sets off to rescue her little brother, who was taken five years ago. Taken into the harsh desert south, a place totally alien to the likes of Del, a pale, blonde northern lass. And even though Del is an accomplished swordswoman, she knows she is no match for the hostile environment of the South. So she enlists the aid of one of the best swordsmen of the South, Tiger.
Like Del, Tiger has a past full of pain and sorrow. And like Del's little brother, Tiger too was a young slave boy subject to all the neglect, suffering and indignities which that implies. So even though he thinks Del is on a fool's mission, he agrees to guide her across the desert to the slave dealer who may know her brother's whereabouts. But the challenges they come up against may be tougher than any even the hardened desert swordsman Tiger has ever faced.
This was, all in all, a rather disappointing book. Del's time as a captive of the raiders is completely glossed over. No description of her time there or how she managed to escape is given. At one point in the story, Del and Tiger are drugged and captured, Del sent to a harem and Tiger to labor as a slave in a mine. That time is also just skipped over with almost no details given, especially as to Del's experience in the harem. Seems like the most interesting details of their lives are omitted. But page after page goes on and on about Del's experience with a life-threatening sunburn. Too much detail there. It seemed to me like the best parts of the story were left out.
By Alex McDonough
Scorpio is a member of a gentle, peace-loving people who are being threatened with extermination. They share their planet with another intelligent biped who are hostile and intent on world domination. This people, known as the Hunters, has found three magical orbs with amazing power. Unfortunately, they have decided to use this power to exterminate Scorpio's people. In desperation, Scorpio sneaks into the Hunter citadel and steals one of the precious orbs. In the process of trying to escape, the orb, reading his need, transports him away from the danger zone and onto a strange planet, Earth. But not the Earth of our time, the Earth of the 14th century, to Avignon, France, at the time the home of the Catholic Pope.
Scorpio's people are water dwellers and chameleon-like in their ability to change their skin color to match the background. So when young Leah stumbles across Scorpio in a field outside the city, she naturally concludes that she is facing a demon. Scorpio, who only wants to get back home, needs to understand how the orb works and how he ended up where he did. He shows the orb to Leah and asks her if she has ever seen anything like it and she tells him it looks like the orb the Pope holds in a painting she has seen. So Scorpio decides he needs to visit the Pope.
Leah is the daughter of a Jewish physician and her father is about to become entangled in a power struggle between rival factions in the church hierarchy. He is set up as the fall guy in the murder of a church official and thrown into prison. Now Leah has the same mission as Scorpio, she needs to visit the Pope to convince him that her father is wrongly accused. She and Scorpio team up and help each other, with Scorpio disguised as a monk with leprosy, to account for his strange appearance. But, to add to the complications, the Hunters have tracked down Scorpio, using one of the orbs, and they want two things: the stolen orb and Scorpio dead.
This was a pretty interesting story, if a bit illogical. First off, how Scorpio and Leah can understand each other's language is never explained. One could assume it is the magic of the orb, but even when the orb is buried and not close by, they still have no trouble understanding each other. I wish that had been explained. Second, why are the Hunters so determined to destroy Scorpio's people? Apparently these two peoples have lived on their planet together for generations without undue conflict. And Scorpio's people are portrayed as peaceful, gentle agriculturalists. Why the Hunters suddenly turn against them is not explained. It's not like the Hunters need the habitat. Scorpio's people like wet, damp environments. Water is like acid to the Hunters, they can't even handle humidity, living in their climate-controlled citadel where all the water is wrung out of the air before it is piped in to the buildings. They are obviously a desert-adapted race and would have no interest in living in the swamps and waters of Scorpio's people.
But, getting past those problems, overall, it was a good story. Scorpio is a really likable, good-hearted fellow. He doesn't hesitate to help people out, even though he is desperate to get on with his own problems of dodging the Hunters and trying to understand the orb he has stolen. He even tries to help Leah get her father out of prison and to prove his innocence. I enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy.