Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green
It’s a little tough tracking Green’s various series’. This one sort-of introduces his battle-couple Hawk and Fisher, the only honest guards in the corrupt city of Haven (or does it? Events in the newest book, Once In A Blue Moon may call that into question. I’ll have a better idea once I actually read the book), albeit under their original names. However, this is usually listed as part of the “Forest Kingdom” series, which includes this, Beyond The Blue Moon, and Down Among the Dead Men, as well as one called Blood and Honour which I’ve never found.
Anyway, this is set in the Forest Kingdom, which is, aptly, mostly forest. Prince Rupert, the second son of the royal family, has been sent forth from the Castle on a quest to find and kill a dragon. Passing through the Tanglewood, a dangerous sort of place that forms a barrier between the rest of the kingdom and the Darkwood, which is an extremely dangerous place, he fights a demon, which is supposed to be lurking in the Darkwood and not the Tanglewood at all.
Anyway, Rupert eventually finds a dragon, and it even has a princess: one Princess Julia of Hillsdown, a neighbouring duchy. She was sent up by her people as a sacrifice (in the interests of keeping the bloodline pure and eliminating competition for her older sisters–the same sort of thinking that has Rupert dragon-hunting while riding a unicorn(the Unicorn is intelligent and he and Rupert are friends, though the relationship is not without its tensions)) But the dragon is intelligent and old, even for its type of creature, and Julia is smart and tough (the dragon is a bit afraid of her) and Rupert ends up bringing them both back with him–which is seen at home as a failure, since he was either supposed to die, thus removing a problem from the succession, or bring back the dragon’s treasure (which, sadly, consists of butterflies. Not all dragons collect gold and gems). Oh, and it turns out that, before she was sent to be sacrificed to a dragon, Julia was promised in marriage to Rupert’s hated older brother, Harald.
But shortly, none of that matters, because the Darkwood is expanding, and demons are attacking, and soon will overwhelm the entire kingdom. A blue moon is rising, unleashing wild magic on the kingdom, and the Demon Prince, summoned by traitors within the kingdom, is coming . . .
Of course the heroes win, and Rupert and Julia run off to become Hawk and Fisher. The End.
This is a thicker book than Green’s later urban fantasies, though by no means as thick as the Deathstalker books. His voice is pretty much fully developed here; Rupert and Julia are typical Green heroes, and things leap from the horrific to the light-hearted and back quickly enough to give you whiplash, though the pace overall is a bit slower than in most of his other books. Overall it’s a fun bit of otherworld fantasy that isn’t going to change your life or anything but if you liked any of Green’s other works and are in the mood for this sort of thing, you should enjoy it.
Why I Became An Atheist: A former preacher rejects Christianity by John W. Loftus
A re-read (the original read mentioned here), though the original read wasn’t revised and expanded. It having been since 2009 and the original entry being somewhat on the thin side, it’s hard for me to say how it has changed. Anyway, I guess I’m still going to say mildly recommended.