Books by Mercedes Lackey

ELITE by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"Avoiding second-volume sag with plenty of charisma, this outing proves to be a satisfying read that takes the baton neatly from the first and leaves readers ready for more. (Science fiction/fantasy. 12 & up)"
Following the events of Hunter (2015), now that she's become an Elite, Joy knows she's in for more high-stakes danger and will be facing more dangerous Othersiders than before. Read full book review >
HUNTER by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"Captivating, dynamic, well-paced, and thrilling. (Science fiction/fantasy. 12 & up)"
Joyeaux Charmand is a young Hunter, chosen from her village to join the Hunter corps of Apex, protecting its Cits from the Othersiders—fantastical, menacing creatures—and also protecting the secrets and people of her village back home. Read full book review >
VICTORIES by Mercedes Lackey
Released: April 22, 2014

"A smart and snarky finale. (Fantasy. 12 & up)"
Spirit White and her mage schoolmates prepare for a battle royal in this energetic series ender. Read full book review >
SACRIFICES by Mercedes Lackey
Released: April 2, 2013

"Combat classes, propagandistic emails and the disappearance of students create a bleak read more reminiscent of The Hunger Games than Hogwarts. (Fantasy. 12-16)"
Boarding school students prepare for war, but the enemy may already be among them in this tense teen fantasy, third in the Shadow Grail series. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 13, 2012

"A fantasy fanatic's feast."
Lackey and Mallory (The Phoenix Transformed, 2009, etc.) begin another speculative allegorical series with the chronicle of Elven Queen Vieliessar of Farcarinon. Read full book review >
Released: June 5, 2012

"A novel take on historical fiction that nevertheless disappoints. (Paranormal historical fiction. 10 & up) "
A post-Civil War tale follows an unlikely trio of teens that unites to fight zombies. Read full book review >
CONSPIRACIES by Mercedes Lackey
Released: July 5, 2011

"A diverting if trivial read; it could have been so much more. (Fantasy. 12-16)"
Paranoid speculations prove to be sensible strategy in the second entry of this fantasy series. Read full book review >
LEGACIES by Mercedes Lackey
Released: July 1, 2010

Imagine attending Hogwarts...but the school seems designed to murder you. The car wreck that killed Spirit White's family left her in the care of Oakhurst Academy, a luxurious private school in remotest Montana, the curriculum of which revolves around elemental wizardry. Spirit, like all the orphans at Oakhurst, is a "legacy" student, and her magical heritage makes her a target, even though her powers stubbornly refuse to manifest. Demanding coursework, hostile staff and vicious competition leave her little time to grieve. Until she realizes that students are disappearing, as if something were hunting them...This dark mirror of the standard magic-school story makes an intriguing premise, and Spirit is a likable heroine with a strong, sharp voice, although the constant pop-culture references may date quickly. Other characters are more sketchily defined, but Oakhurst itself exudes a brooding presence, a portentous brew of isolating strictures, up-to-yesterday technology and moldering secrets. While the immediate menace is economically dispatched, numerous ominous threads still dangle for inevitable sequels. A competently crafted fantasy that should satisfy all but the most exacting fans of the genre. (Urban fantasy. YA)Read full book review >
ELVENBORN by Andre Norton
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Better than 1995's Elvenblood but far from over."
Norton and Lackey add to their swelling, long-gestated epic fantasy begun with The Elvenbane (1991). A friendly dragon rescues the red-haired half-blood child Shana, abandoned daughter of Elf-Lord Dyran and his star-crossed concubine Serina Daeth, and raises her among her own brood. Later, Shana is cast out as being too powerful a sorcerer and is captured by the Iron People but, assisted by the fleeing brother and sister Lorryn and Rena, she overthrows Jamal, War Chief of the Iron People, and even breaks the power of the Elvenlords, cruel oppressors of dragons and human-elven half-bloods. Now dissension visits the Elvenlords. When V'kel Lyon Lord Kyndreth complains to his Elvenlords council that the Young Lords' Rebellion is bleeding the kingdom, he worries as well that the "errant children" may decide to ally with the Elvenbane and her wizards and dragons. Meanwhile, V'kel Aelmarkiner-Lord Tornal allies himself with the disgraced but vicious and acidulous Triana, Lord of the Falcion holdings, to unseat his cousin, Lord Kyndreth. All may be politics among the Elvenlords, but Kyrtian V'dyll Lord Prastaran cares nothing for politics. His power is economic, for his farms feed and clothe the Lords of the Council. Even so, he finds himself caught in a feud between Great Lords. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2001

"Harmonizing with an Irish jauntiness, Lackey and Edghill jam each page with a spirit-crushing good humor that solves one of Life's Great Mysteries about grinding out sorcery series: know your elfin addicts."
Lackey, well known for using various collaborators for her Heralds of Valdemar and Bardic Voices series (Brightly Burning, 2000), joins forces with Edghill once again (Beyond World's End), this time for the fifth installment of Lackey's Bedlam's Bard series. It continues the story of Eric Banyon, a flautist who attends Julliard seeking a degree, having returned from Underhill (Elfland) and settled in New York City, where he dodges bike messengers while dreaming of himself as Silverflute, the Queen's Knight. Having failed Introduction to Music Theory because of time taken off to save the world, he still seeks the attentions of Ria, who owns an industrial concern and is deeply involved in Bizness. Read full book review >
THE SERPENT’S SHADOW by Mercedes Lackey
Released: March 6, 2001

"A promising start, with plenty of solid period detail and a splash of feminism, but disappointingly developed, with a thin, poorly motivated plot and a showdown that just hangs out to dry."
Snow White variant set in Edwardian London, from the author of Brightly Burning (2000), etc. Dr Maya Witherspoon, her Indian mother dead, her English father mysteriously killed by snakebite, sets up a practice in London, having fled the vengeful fury of her aunt Shivani, a magic-powered devotee of Kali. Shivani apparently regarded the mixed marriage as a deadly insult to her Brahmin family. Maya inherited a coterie of animals from her mother—they may be avatars of various Hindu gods and goddesses. And she possesses huge Earth Mage magic potential, but lacks training. Her strong but amateurish magical defenses come to the attention of London's White Lodge, who send along former sea captain and Water Mage Peter Scott to investigate. The Lodge master, however, won't consider admitting women or lower-class individuals, so Peter undertakes to teach Maya basic techniques. She already uses magic in healing. Shivani, meanwhile, takes up residence in London, sending forth her magic and her Thuggee servants to seek out her quarry. Read full book review >
THE SHADOW OF THE LION by Mercedes Lackey
Released: March 1, 2001

"Smartly done indeed. Forge/Tor should get fantasists who write with this straightforward strength and avoid broadstrokes through heavy cream."
Supercolossal New Age fantasy set in 1537 Venice. The three authors are known for their various fantasy series written solo or in permutations of togetherness (Lackey for the Heralds of Valdemar and Bardic Voices series, at times with Larry Dixon or Andre Norton—Owlflight, 1997, with Dixon; Flint for his military and alternate history SF, often with David Drake—Fortune's Stroke, 2000; and Freer for his noirish, smile-worthy comedy Rats, Bats & Vats, 2000—all of them sizey works). Did it take a trio to carry this novel this particular distance? In any event, it was a wise choice, since every page shows solid research and style that owes nothing to the banalities and false pearls usually strung together in fat, churned-out, formula fantasies. Erik Hakkonen, an Icelander, is called to Mainz by Charles Fredrik Hohenstauffen, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, to be bodyguard and mentor to Charles's wild-spirited, bedhopping nephew, Prince Manfred, and accompany him on a journey to Venice while preparing the way for the Emperor's own reception in Venice, a state with its own political peculiarities—as well as harboring some monstrous mages, magicians, and shapeshifters—one of whom, to recover his strength after his head is split open and brain visible, skins alive his own shaman and fries him in slabs in a big frying pan. Read full book review >
BEYOND WORLD’S END by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Glacially slow and mostly vacuous: strictly for series addicts."
Addition to an established series, the Bedlam Bards (none reviewed), by Lackey and various collaborators. Flautist-Bard Eric Banyon returns from Underhill (Elfland) and settles in New York City to finish his degree at Juilliard. The half-elf Ria Llewellyn, also magic-powered, arrives, determined to renew her acquaintance with Eric following a previous clash. Ria's the owner of a huge industrial concern; unknown to her, a subsidiary, Threshold, secretly operates a Black laboratory wherein disgruntled misfit Jeanette Campbell toils to develop drugs that will confer magic powers upon ordinary individuals. Her partner, the evil megalomaniac Robert Lintel, soon takes over; he thinks nothing of killing hundreds of unsuspecting junkies to further the experiments. Also into the picture rides Aerune mac Audelaine, a bigwig of the Unseleighe (Dark) elves, who wants to establish a new gateway in Central Park. Instead, he notices Lintel's experiments and decides to grab the results for himself. Eventually, the leading characters will meet in a showdown of sorts. Read full book review >
BRIGHTLY BURNING by Mercedes Lackey
Released: May 8, 2000

Another of Lackey's fantasy yarns set in Valdemar (Storm Warning, 1994, etc.), a magical kingdom where magic-powered Heralds bond for life with horselike Companions, now facing war with neighboring Karse. This time, Lackey tells the story of Lavan Chitward, whose middle-class, social-climbing parents enroll him in a ghastly private school, oblivious of his talent for magically setting fire to things. The boy will grow up to be the notorious Herald, Lavan Firestorm. Only Valdemar experts will be able to place this installment chronologically—or want to. Read full book review >
THE RIVER'S GIFT by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Oct. 11, 1999

New fantasy, with few and tiny pages, from the author of The Black Swan (p. 496), etc. Beautiful 15-year-old Ariella of Swan Manor likes to don workaday clothes, run off into the forest, and use her magic gifts to heal sick and injured animals. One day a magical Kelpie named Merod rises from the river; from his foot Ariella withdraws the iron nail that's poisoning him, and the two become friends. Soon, Ariella is healing outlandish Faerie creatures as well as animals and the local serfs. Then her beloved father Lord Kaelin drops dead. Females can't inherit, so Kaelin arranged for a cousin, Lord Lyon, to marry Ariella. But Lyon is large, loud, brutal, and cares nothing for Faerie or Swan Manor; he drugs the confused, grieving Ariella and carries her off to his own castle, where he restrains her and prepares her for marriage. At last, using magic given him by a Great One, Merod arrives in human guise to rescue Ariella by transforming them both into swans. Fluffy no-brainer evidently aimed at a younger—much younger—fantasy audience. Read full book review >
THE BLACK SWAN by Mercedes Lackey
Released: May 1, 1999

Another reworking of an Old Russian folk tale (like Firebird, 1996), this one having also inspired the famous music and ballet Swan Lake. Following the premature death of his wife, the powerful sorcerer Baron von Rothbart seeks revenge upon womankind by capturing the most desirable ones and transforming them into swans. His intelligent daughter, Odile, trembles for the least indication of approval from her father, excelling in her learning of sorcery and guarding his captive flock, until she begins to doubt both her own role and her father's entire motivation. Of the baron's captives, the most mettlesome and courageous is Odette, a princess who relentlessly schemes for her freedom. There are other complications involving Queen Clothilde, regent for her selfish, wastrel son Siegfried, driven to bargain with von Rothbart to prevent the dreadful Siegfried claiming the throne. Lackey's popular, and this one will have its adherents: decorously embroidered and pleasant but, well, feathery. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1997

First hardcover appearance for Lackey's Bardic Voices series (The Eagle and the Nightingales, etc.). In the city of Haldene, constable Tal Rufen ponders a string of brutal murders. The victims are all poor street-musician girls, but Tal's clues are confusing: The perpetrators are also all dead (they always commit suicide right after carrying out a murder); in every case, the weapon is a knife with a characteristic blade, but somehow it invariably vanishes from the crime scene; as for the weather, it's always raining—because water washes away traces of magic? Confronted with indifference by his superiors (the cases are, after all, technically solved), Tal resigns when the murders stop and heads for Kingsford, a city in chaos where such crimes could go undetected. Sure enough, the murders begin again. Tal, now working for High Bishop Ardis, investigates and eventually discovers that a mage named Rand, who has the ability to transform himself into the Black Bird, seeks revenge for perceived wrongs done him in the past. And so he has orchestrated the murders as a means of enhancing his magical powers. Between the leisurely setup and the protracted windup lie hundreds of pages of verbose twiddling. Only fans who need everything spelled out in the tiniest detail will stick around. Read full book review >
OWLFLIGHT by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Stand-alone Valdemar yarn from the wife-and-husband team (The Silver Gryphon, 1996, etc.). Chronologically, this follows the events of Storm Breaking (not reviewed), but it's otherwise unconnected. Young orphan Darian lives on the edge of the vast Pelagiris forest. Though apprenticed to the wise old wizard Justyn, he's contemptuous of magic in general and unwilling to make the effort to develop his own talents. When invading barbarians burn the village and kill Justyn, Darian flees into the forest and meets the Hawkbrothers, a magical elflike race who bond with birds and bear such names as Snowfire, Starfall, and Nightwind. What ensues is a standard coming-of-age fantasy involving the usual Lackey and Dixon suspects (yes, of course, gryphons). Should entertain the more junior and unsuspecting sections of the audience. Read full book review >
FIREBIRD by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

Reworking of an Old Russian folk tale from fantasist Lackey (Sacred Ground, 1994, etc.). Ilya is the despised middle son— beaten by his elders, spurned by his younger brothers—of ``czar'' Ivan, actually a boyar with pretensions. When someone mysteriously begins to steal cherries from Ivan's orchards, the guards are found fast asleep. Ilya's older brothers take turns to watch, with no better results; but Ilya jabs himself with pins to keep awake and meets the Firebird, a creature with dazzling feathers that is also a beautiful young woman. She gives Ilya a feather, and thereafter he can summon the Firebird as well as understand the speech of birds and animals. Ilya's big brothers take their revenge and beat Ilya nearly to death, and thereafter he pretends to have lost his wits. Finally, the brothers tie Ilya to his horse and send him cantering away through the snowy forest. After various adventures, he comes upon the place of a dreadful and seemingly invulnerable sorcerer, the Katschei, who can be killed only when his heart is destroyed—and it isn't in his chest. Can Ilya's friend the Firebird help him to triumph? A pleasant enough diversion aimed at the younger sections of the audience; pity that Lackey didn't inject some modern rigor and logic into the proceedings. Read full book review >
THE SILVER GRYPHON by Mercedes Lackey
Released: March 1, 1996

Third in the Mage Wars trilogy from the wife and husband team. Twelve peaceful years have passed since the action of The White Gryphon (1995), while Skandranon the Black Gryphon and Amberdrake the Healer settle down into comfortable middle age. An elite warrior force, the Silver Gryphons, has been formed to protect the city—a force that Skandranon's son Tad and Amberdrake's daughter Blade, sowing rebellious streaks, have joined. Following two long, hard years of training, Tad and Blade are given the difficult assignment of occupying a remote guard post reachable only across miles of unknown territory. On the way, a strange force drains Tad's magic powers. So, alone, injured, and desperate, Tad and Blade find themselves beset by Wyrsa, dreadful mage-created hybrid creatures who have the power to absorb magic. Standard fare for series regulars. Read full book review >
TIGER BURNING BRIGHT by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

When the irresistible armies of the Emperor Balthasar threaten to invade the peaceful, Goddess-worshipping port of Merina, its rulersDowager Queen Adele, Queen Lydana, and princess Shelyradecide to avoid bloodshed and simply submit. But the emperor is dominated by an evil sorcerer, Apolon, so rather than be imprisoned or worse, the three arrange to disappear. Old Adele fakes her own death to become Alfrida, Flame of the Temple; Lydana disguises herself as bead-seller Matild; the impatient Shelyra takes refuge among the Gypsies as Raymonda. Meanwhile, Apolon searches desperately for them. Worse, his cruel and arrogant Black Coats take over the city. Rumors spread that Apolon is a necromancer. But what does he really wantthe power of the Temple's Heart, a sacred jewel-encrusted meteorite? Or the latent magic contained within the body of Shelyra? Balthasar's son, Leopold, spied on by Shelyra, turns out to be both honorable and deeply suspicious of Apolon. So, as the royal fugitives stir up such resistance as they are able, Shelyra and Leopold fall in lovea bond that will prove crucial in the final magical showdown with Apolon. More parsimonious editing and greater attention to detail in the formative stages would've helped considerably with this workmanlike, predictable yarn and its remarkably obtuse bad guys: the authors, notwithstanding their individual accomplishments, strike no sparks together. Read full book review >
ELVENBLOOD by Andre Norton
Released: June 1, 1995

Independent sequel to The Elvenbane (1991). After the rebellion of Shana, the Elvenbane, and her half-blood and dragon allies against the cruel and oppressive Elvenlords, nothing much has changed except that the half-bloods are left more or less alone. But now Lord Tylar has decided to marry his daughter, Rena, advantageously off to an aristocratic dolt; meanwhile, Tylar's son, Lorryn—not really his son, but a human-elven half-blood—is threatened with exposure. Assisted by Myre, a dragon disguised as a human slave, Rena and Lorryn plan to escape. Myre, however, hopes to use the pair to track down and destroy Shana's half-bloods and their dragon allies. Shana, meantime, is captured by nomadic Iron People—their iron jewelry and mental shields protect them against magic—and learns that Jamal, their War Chief, intends to pillage the half-blood settlements, while their Iron Priest, Diric, desires only cooperation and trade. Eventually, Rena and Lorryn arrive among the Iron People to help Shana and Diric overthrow Jamal, while Myre is defeated by her brother, Keman. Finally, they all arrange to break the power of the Elvenlords by providing their slaves and downtrodden relatives with magic-proof iron jewelry. A dreadfully slow start—the first 100-plus pages could have been collapsed into a few paragraphs—but thereafter modestly appealing and involving, if lacking real bite. Read full book review >
THE WHITE GRYPHON by Mercedes Lackey
Released: April 1, 1995

The second in a prequel trilogy set roughly a thousand years before the main action in Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series (Storm Warning, 1994, etc.). Ten years after the action of The Black Gryphon (1994), the gryphons and their human companions, despite their inability to use magic with full effect, have established a cliffside city called White Gryphon near the Western Ocean. Skandranon, the hero of the migration to the new city, at first finds himself restless with the role of peacetime leader, but new challenges soon arise. A false ``healer'' is discovered to be torturing his patients and is expelled—only to return in secret and take revenge. Then a ship arrives from the powerful Haighlei Empire, bearing ambassadors who accuse the new city of trespassing on Haighlei territory. Hoping to avoid open warfare, the gryphons send ambassadors to the Empire—not suspecting that some of their fellow citizens seek to sabotage the pending alliance. All this is narrated in a style many readers may find slow-moving, with frequent descriptions of costume and setting and introspective passages from Skandranon's point of view. Newcomers to Lackey's fantasy universe are best advised to sample one of her solo novels, but the many fans who follow the series will probably find little to object to in this collaboration with husband Dixon. (12 b&w illustrations by Dixon, not seen) Read full book review >
STORM WARNING by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

From Lackey (with Bill Dixon, The Black Gryphon, 1993) a starter for yet another sword-and-sorcery trilogy set, like her Mage Winds books, in Valdemar, though only experts will know where, chronologically, this one fits in. Charliss ``the Immortal,'' Adept and Emperor of the Eastern Empire, dreams of conquering the West. However, his armies have been fought to a standstill in Hardorn, so he sends his putative successor, the Grand Duke Tremane, to remedy matters and complete the conquest. In neighboring Karse, meanwhile, the new High Priest, Solaris, has cast forth the evil demon- summoners, child-burners, and False Sons. And though for centuries the Karsites have demonized Valdemar's Herald-Mages and their horselike Companions, Solaris sends the powerful mage Ulrich and his secretary, Karal, to the Valdemaran Court. Here the long, slow process of forging a magical alliance to defeat the Eastern Empire gets underway, while violent storms sent by Tremane roll across the land. Valdemar devotees who delight in description and chat and the absence of action should feel perfectly at home. Non-fans and browsers will simply yawn and pass on. Read full book review >
SACRED GROUND by Mercedes Lackey
Released: March 1, 1994

Contemporary mystery/fantasy wherein Lackey (The Black Gryphon, etc.) combines an insurance-fraud investigation with Native American magic. Jennie Talldeer, an Oklahoman Osage Indian and the granddaughter of a powerful medicine man, is a respected shaman-in- training in her own right—as well as a successful private investigator; in her spare time she locates stolen Indian artifacts and returns them to their rightful owners. Her current client is an insurance company that has hired her to investigate suspicious goings-on at a nearby mall development: Indian artifacts have turned up (but the flood plain site is unlikely to be a genuine burial ground), and an exploding bulldozer has killed several workers (for which developer Rod Calligan blames Indian activists). Jennie learns that Calligan has obtained, and been possessed by, the medicine bundle of a supremely dangerous spirit, the Evil One. Another problem is posed by old flame and Indian activist David Spotted Horse's hostility—at least until David is persuaded that Jennie's magic abilities are real. Soon the Osage spirits, awakened and enraged by Calligan's meddling, begin to threaten innocent bystanders. Eventually, there will be a showdown battle on the spirit plane. Hard-working and impressively researched, though with one- dimensional characters and an unexceptionable but ploddingly right- on good vs. evil clash. Read full book review >
THE BLACK GRYPHON by Mercedes Lackey
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

Prequel to Lackey's various fantasy series, chronologically set about a millennium before the founding of Valdemar. Here, the good archmage Urtho and his armies are locked in mortal combat with the evil Ma'ar. Urtho has created numerous races, most importantly the gryphons, chief among whom is the black-dyed mage, Skandranon; other leading characters include Winterhart, an emotionally repressed human Healer, and Amberdrake the kestra'chern—the latter something like a combined masseur, sex counselor, and psychotherapist. While Skandranon recuperates from wounds received in yet another heroic mission, young Zhaneel—a slender, clever, agile gryphon despised by some of Urtho's generals for her lack of sheer bulk and strength—develops new tactics against Ma'ar's airborne makaar slaves. While Amberdrake builds up Zhaneel's self-esteem, Skandranon heals, and Urtho loses more territory. Skandranon resolves to learn the secret of gryphon fertility—a secret closely guarded by Urtho. Amberdrake practices his healing arts on Winterhart, and they fall in love. Ma'ar advances to capture some of Urtho's Gates by which beings and material are moved about. Finally, as Urtho lies dying, poisoned by a treacherous mage, a clever plan by Skandranon and Amberdrake tempts Ma'ar to enter the Gate, which thereupon explodes. Weakly, unevenly plotted, with far too much chat and therapy, somewhat alleviated by the life-sized, believable characters. Should keep the fans happy but won't tempt many newcomers. (A sequel, The White Gryphon, is promised.) Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 1993

Inventive but rather superficial fantasy written by Lackey from a summary provided by Anthony, then revised and edited by him. In Mazonia, only women possess the ability to produce illusions through conjuration, and so men are their slaves; the most powerful conjuror becomes queen. Young Xylina, mighty but inhibited and unambitious, acquires a talented slave, Faro, by defeating him in the arena. But Xylina falls victim to a series of untoward events and fails to prosper. She begins to suspect not ill fortune but the machinations of a potent enemy. The demon Ware, despite his oath to obey Queen Adria, lends Xylina money and reveals that Xylina's enemy is in fact the Queen. Then, when Xylina is unable to repay her debt to Ware, Adria agrees to guarantee Xylina's debt—but as payment Xylina must lead an expedition to remote lands to secure a crystal fragment that will make Adria immortal. Slowly, Xylina comes to trust Ware, who loves her with strictly honorable intent; numerous complications, created by the demon's ludicrously bizarre sexuality, ensue. After various adventures, Xylina obtains the crystal but decides to keep it for herself—so forcing a magical duel with dangerous Adria. Intriguing social fantasy that grows ever less persuasive and appealing once the enterprise gets hijacked by subplots about halfway through, leaving many promising ideas undeveloped. Still, a huge audience is guaranteed. Read full book review >
REDISCOVERY by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Released: April 14, 1993

Bradley (Black Trillium, 1990, etc.) here joins forces with the prolific Lackey (coauthor, The Elvenbane, 1991, etc.) for the long-awaited story of the rediscovery of the lost colony of Darkover, settled by a ship from Earth, but unable to sustain high technology after losing contact with the parent civilization; now, after centuries of isolation, a second wave of exploration from Earth arrives. The two cultures could hardly be more different: Darkover is a low-tech feudal society, male- dominated, in which telepathic powers have developed to extraordinary degrees, while the Terran ship carries a crew of scientists, equipped with the latest computer technology, representatives of a rationalistic and egalitarian interstellar empire. As a result, the first contacts between the two are filled with mistaken assumptions and false steps. Much of the story, meanwhile, is told from the points of view of two women: Leonie Hastur, an extraordinarily gifted young telepath, descended from perhaps the most powerful clan on Darkover; and Ysaye Barnett, the expedition's computer specialist, who has (by Terran standards) unusual telepathic powers of her own. The plot moves very slowly at first, full of small conflicts and misunderstandings; most of the real action is concentrated in the last hundred pages, where the foundations are laid for the acrimonious relationship between Earth and Darkover that will prevail in the double handful of novels Bradley has already set on this world. Given that the events here are among the most crucial in the entire history of the planet—the equivalent, in our own history, of Columbus's landing in America—it is curiously tame and tentative. Dedicated Darkover fans will probably find deep meaning in some of the apparently slight episodes, but for a newcomer to the series, almost any of Bradley's solo novels would be a better introduction. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

A collaborative effort from fantasy grande dame Norton and relative newcomer Lackey (the paperback Magic's Price), this tale of magic and intrigue offers a mixture of standard genre elements and an engaging plot. When Serina Daeth, favorite concubine of the Elf-Lord Dyran, conceives a half-blood child by him, she flees his wrath into the desert, where she quickly succumbs. But the child, born in Serina's dying moments, is rescued by a friendly dragon and raised with her own draconic brood. As the child Shana grows, she develops prodigious sorcerous powers—so strong that it seems she might be the fabled Elvenbane, powerful enough to free the enslaved humans from their elven oppressors. The dragons come to fear her unplumbed power, though, and cast her out. With a renegade elf-lord and his half-blood servant, and the aid of her remaining dragon friends, Shana prepares to challenge the elfish supremacy. Though battle is joined, a sequel is plainly on the way. Thoroughly rooted in genre traditions—with elves, dragons, unicorns, and sorcerers—but some variations make it more enjoyable than the average example: theses elves and unicorns, for instance, are cruel and dangerous, where in most fantasies they are shining examples of superhuman purity. Overall, then, despite shallow characters and a lack of real tension (we never doubt that Shana and friends will succeed), an entertaining adventure. Read full book review >