A series starter with excellent potential undercut by several narrative glitches.

Order of the Seers

Two young siblings are on the run from a shadowy organization in Murphy’s debut novel, an adventure-thriller.

Lilli had always been special. Shortly before an event that changes everything for Lilli and her older brother, Liam, she begins to see vivid visions of the future. They arrive home after going to a carnival, and Liam finds their mother dead on the floor, an apparent suicide. A note next to her body reads, “Go now. Protect her.” For nearly two years, the two live on the run, relentlessly hunted by members of a society called the Guild. Lilli is a Seer, and as it turns out, their mother was one as well. The Guild is part of a powerful secret organization that tracks down and “rehabilitate[s]” Seers but actually controls them for their own purposes through the use of a drug, Luridium. The drug helps the Guild control the Seers’ powers by both suppressing their emotions and deleting their memories. Their mother had killed herself to protect her daughter, so they couldn’t get information about her. Eventually, Liam and Lilli fall in with a commune of other Seers, who make it their mission to obliterate the Guild and protect others like them from their malicious grip. Murphy conjures an exciting tale that beautifully balances dramatic tension and suspense with a strong sense of worldbuilding and character. Lilli and Liam are a devoted pair of siblings whose love for each other draws the reader into their fraught situation, and the commune sequences provide a lovely sense of community amid the chaos. At the same time, the novel struggles at times to build momentum and concludes more abruptly than climactically. Further, Liam is later featured in an awkwardly phrased, overly graphic sex scene with a girlfriend, which doesn’t fit easily within a novel that could have otherwise been recommended to young-adult readers.

A series starter with excellent potential undercut by several narrative glitches.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9856210-0-1

Page Count: 259

Publisher: LionSky Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2015

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This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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

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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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