An immensely satisfying final volume in Carlton’s humans-and-insects saga.


From the The Antasy Series series , Vol. 3

The conclusion to a fantasy trilogy in which embattled tiny humans vie with insects.

This final volume in Carlton’s epic Antasy series takes readers back to a world where people have evolved to insect size and are surrounded by terrifying predators on land and in the air. The first book, Prophets of the Ghost Ants (2016),introduced readers to a wretched human underling named Anand, who dreams of freeing his people from the terror of the Ghost Ants and eventually founds the new and enlightened nation of Bee-Jor. As the series progressed through the second volume, Prophet of the Termite God (2019),readers followed Anand’s journey through scenes of war, torture, and hairbreadth adventure. That adventure concludes in this final volume, in which the realm of Bee-Jor is tottering due to outside and internal threats, including one that’s represented by one of the book’s most intriguing characters: the mad Queen Trellana, who threatens the new nation’s very existence in these pages. This plot of this series entry involves a blinded and desperate Anand being captured by a mysterious group, among whom he makes new friends and allies while in captivity; meanwhile, he agonizes over his ignorance of what’s happening in faction-torn Bee-Jor, where war is looming and a tense situation isn’t being helped at all by Queen Trellana’s delusional histrionics.

Carlton skillfully manipulates readers’ feelings of anticipation about the fate of Bee-Jor and about Anand himself, and he does so right from the beginning of this complex volume. The saga of Anand, also known as “Roach Boy,” is still central to the sprawling narrative, but many other important plotlines converge in this concluding entry, which the author fills with engaging characters and gritty, often violent Game of Thrones–style action and realpolitik. Over the course of three books, the author has been pursuing this story with gusto and intense readability, often through the use of vivid, gripping language—as when Anand is in the midst of traveling, exhausted, and Carlton sets the scene by noting that “Night slithered in, as cold and damp as an earth worm.” Overall, this is an extensively fleshed-out world that’s raw and brutal but very satisfyingly imagined. Unlike in many other epic fantasy novels, the characters in this story (human and otherwise) really seem to live in this strange world; the internal consistency of the reality Carlton has imagined is solid to the last detail. This third volume is very much aimed at existing fans of the series; it begins with a large glossary of dramatis personae, but it lacks the kind of series-to-this-point recap that’s common in other fantasy tomes, and that’s sorely needed here; without it, there’s little chance that new readers can come onboard with this book. This is unfortunate, as the various aspects of Anand’s character are more effectively rendered in these pages than in previous entries, and Carlton’s handling of the multifaceted story has never been more confident.

An immensely satisfying final volume in Carlton’s humans-and-insects saga.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-242979-7

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

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Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.


A fantasy adventure with a sometimes-biting wit.

Tress is an ordinary girl with no thirst to see the world. Charlie is the son of the local duke, but he likes stories more than fencing. When the duke realizes the two teenagers are falling in love, he takes Charlie away to find a suitable wife—and returns with a different young man as his heir. Charlie, meanwhile, has been captured by the mysterious Sorceress who rules the Midnight Sea, which leaves Tress with no choice but to go rescue him. To do that, she’ll have to get off the barren island she’s forbidden to leave, cross the dangerous Verdant Sea, the even more dangerous Crimson Sea, and the totally deadly Midnight Sea, and somehow defeat the unbeatable Sorceress. The seas on Tress’ world are dangerous because they’re not made of water—they’re made of colorful spores that pour down from the world’s 12 stationary moons. Verdant spores explode into fast-growing vines if they get wet, which means inhaling them can be deadly. Crimson and midnight spores are worse. Ships protected by spore-killing silver sail these seas, and it’s Tress’ quest to find a ship and somehow persuade its crew to carry her to a place no ships want to go, to rescue a person nobody cares about but her. Luckily, Tress is kindhearted, resourceful, and curious—which also makes her an appealing heroine. Along her journey, Tress encounters a talking rat, a crew of reluctant pirates, and plenty of danger. Her story is narrated by an unusual cabin boy with a sharp wit. (About one duke, he says, “He’d apparently been quite heroic during those wars; you could tell because a great number of his troops had died, while he lived.”) The overall effect is not unlike The Princess Bride, which Sanderson cites as an inspiration.

Engrossing worldbuilding, appealing characters, and a sense of humor make this a winning entry in the Sanderson canon.

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781250899651

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.


A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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