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THE MARTYR'S BLADE

THE CHRONICLES OF THE MARTYR, BOOK ONE

An energetic and captivating swords-and-sorcery tale that bodes well for the next book in the series.

A powerful team investigates a string of mysterious massacres in this fantasy novel.

Trouble has come to the forests and mountains of northern Albyn. Rural temples, offshoots of the beloved central Temple in the thriving city of Bandirma, have become the sites of strange slaughters. Runes and symbols are written on the floor in blood, and desiccated corpses have been drained of their life force. Three potent emissaries from the Temple are sent to investigate: Lord Bradon, a mighty warrior leading an army; Sir Killock, a skilled and solitary knight  accompanied by his protégée tracker, the sly ex-thief Wyn; and Southern foreigner Lady Danielle d’Lavandou, who wields her family’s ancestral weapon, a blade that once smote the legendary Nameless King. The ritualistic murders seem to imply the return of the Crunorix, a death cult devoted to the Nameless King’s magi. Gifted with the ability to use magic Devices such as an enchanted battle hammer or a guiding amulet, the group pursues the cultists, leading it into an underground realm and dangerous battles with zombielike husks, deadly wights, and a dark force growing in power, not only in the mountains of Albyn, but also in the heart of the Temple itself. As the quest proceeds, Danielle and Wyn fall in love, a tentative pairing with grave implications for Danielle’s ancestral right to wield the Martyr’s Blade. In this series opener, Manners (The Artificer’s Tale, 2017, etc.) creates a complex world with a complete culture, religion, and history. His characters are broadly likable, and some of the novel’s highlights involve the banter between these old friends. Though Albyn, with its rogue-filled taverns and deep forests, will feel familiar to many fantasy fans, underground settings are intriguingly sinister and unique. The author fashions tunnels and caverns where time and space behave strangely and madness threatens intruders. Danielle emerges as a strong central character, formidable and confident while still vulnerable and thoughtful. Wyn spouts slangy sayings but the development of her interior life can’t quite match Danielle’s, which mutes the impact of their romance. In this intricate, if at times overloaded, story, the ritualists and monsters never become bracing villains. But a figure emerging near the end of this volume seems to promise a more striking opponent in the next installment.

An energetic and captivating swords-and-sorcery tale that bodes well for the next book in the series.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972594-0-7

Page Count: 596

Publisher: Colquhoun Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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