Friday, February 22, 2013

Dangerous Gifts by Gaie Sebold

Last year I read a debut from Gaie Sebold. That book was Babylon Steel. It was great fun with solid world building and I looked very much forward to the sequel, which is Dangerous Gifts.

One of the things I most enjoyed about Babylon Steel was the portal city of Scalentine with it's many exotic characters. Another highly enjoyable part of Babylon Steel was the Red Lantern; the brothel that Babylon owns and runs, with it's orc cook Flower and top drawing worker; the fey Laney, as well as the duo of Cruel and Unusual who cater for those who want something a little different. There was also the developing relationship between Babylon and the were chief of police Hargur Bitternut.

The parts of Dangerous Gifts that did take place in Scalentine and dealt with the Red Lantern and it's staff were the strongest and most enjoyable sections of the book. Unfortunately they were too brief for my liking.

Most of the story deals with Babylon taking on a job body guarding Enthemmerlee; a religious figure of some importance to the Ikinchli (a race of oppressed reptilian creatures). Enthemmerlee was an important part of Babylon Steel, so that made sense that she would feature heavily in the follow up.

I didn't buy a lot of the plot and the tensions between the races of the Gudain and the Ikinchli were I felt a little too heavy handed. It also reminded me a lot of the relationship between the Narn and the Centauri in Babylon 5.

A lot of the book didn't seem to go anywhere and because Bitternut wasn't there a lot of the time I had trouble buying the closeness of he and Babylon's relationship.

The character of the dangerous and unstable wizard Mokraine was a good one though.

I think there's still more scope for Babylon Steel as a series and this was just the rough second book. If it focusses more on Scalentine and tightens the plot up a bit there's some highly entertaining future adventures for Babylon. The first book had a lot of humour and there were opportunities in Dangerous Gifts that simply weren't explored.

I'd advise anyone who was interested to start with Babylon Steel to get a real idea of the series' potential and I intend to stick with it if there is a third book, because there is more there than Dangerous Gifts really brings to the table.

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