DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES

Since Frank Herbert, author of the mighty Dune series (ending with Chapterhouse: Dune, 1985) died in 1986, rumors have been circulating that his son Brian (Sudanna, Sudanna, 1985) would continue the saga. Finally, in collaboration with Anderson (Star Wars novels, X-files novels, thrillers, etc.) he has: the action of this prequel occurs several decades before that of Dune, the series opener. In a far-future galactic empire, everything from commerce and politics to interstellar travel and longevity depends on a miraculous spice, mÇlange, whose sole source is the desert planet Arrakis. The Emperor, Elrood IX of House Corrino, sends scientist Pardot Kynes to Arrakis to study its puzzling ecology. Elrood’s son Shaddam, meanwhile, plots with the assassin Hasimir Fenring to murder his father, while simultaneously prodding the old emperor to conspire with the despised, genetic-whiz Tleilaxu to develop an artificial source of the spice. A young, lean Baron Harkonnen oversees Arrakis and spice production, while his deadly rival, Paulus Atreides, sends his son, 14-year-old Leto, to planet Ix to study its sophisticated machines. The manipulative Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood require both Harkonnen and Atreides genes to achieve their long-standing objective of breeding an omniscient psychic that they can control while remaining dependent on a poisonous spice-liquor to ignite ancestral memories. Undeniably, the authors have accepted a formidable challenge. So how does their effort stack up against Frank Herbert’s originals? Well, the plotting’s as devious and complicated if less subtle, and it’s comparable in scope, with gratifying inventive touches. Still, the disappointingly lightweight characters make for less powerful drama. In a word, satisfying: all Dune fans will want to investigate, newcomers will be tempted, and it should promote fresh interest in the magnificent original series. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1999

ISBN: 0-553-11061-6

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Spectra/Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

From the Shades of Magic series , Vol. 1

A fast-paced fantasy adventure that takes readers into a series of interconnected worlds ruled by magic—or the lack of it.

Long ago, the doors between worlds were open, and anyone with magic could travel from one to the next. Now the doors are closed, and only a chosen few have the power to travel between Grey London, a world without magic, Red London, a world suffused with it, and White London, a world where magic is scarce, coveted and jealously guarded. As for Black London, the city consumed, no one would be so foolish as to risk a trip—not even Kell. Officially, he’s a royal messenger, carrying letters among the rulers of the three Londons. Unofficially, he’s a smuggler who collects artifacts from other worlds. It’s that habit that leads him to accept a dangerous relic, something that shouldn’t exist. And it’s when a wanted Grey London thief named Lila steals the artifact that the real trouble starts—for both of them. Schwab (Vicious, 2013, etc.) creates a memorable world—actually, three memorable worlds—and even more memorable characters. Lila in particular is a winningly unconventional heroine who, as she declares, would “rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” The brisk plot makes this a page-turner that confronts darkness but is never overwhelmed by it.

Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7645-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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