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BLACK BOTTLE by Anthony Huso


by Anthony Huso

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2517-4
Publisher: Tor

Wrapping up the duology begun with The Last Page (2010), Huso's persuasive mingling of medieval and modern technology, cutting-edge science and blood-magic.

Previously, we learned that Caliph Howl, thanks to his holomorphic magic (reality-altering applied mathematics powered by blood), and his lover, Sena Iilool, adept of the Shradnæ witchocracy, defeated the rebels to gain control of Stonehold. During the fighting, Caliph was killed and brought back to life by Sena wielding the power of an ancient book of magic, the Cisrym Ta. Remote, frigid Stonehold thus announces itself to the powerful empires in the south, who immediately scheme to acquire the book, as does the witchocracy. Sena, however, has acquired godlike powers by forming an alliance with the shade of Caliph's supposed uncle Nathaniel, now revealed as the last lingering presence of a once-mighty, immortal alien race, in order to outwit some even more ancient and mysterious intruders. There’s an outbreak of plague and a spy for the southerners who’s intent on establishing a church. So much eventually, painfully, emerges, via dreams, hallucinations, time travel, long extracts from books left by Sena for Caliph to read and bursts of at best, obscurely related action. Having read the first book does not help. With a plot that can only be inferred and characters that either know everything and explain nothing or don’t have a clue, the problem is caring about any of it.

As evidenced by his debut, Huso has plenty of talent, but this ponderously unintelligible effort collapses under its own weight.