A somewhat predictable but still inventive fantasy-series opener.


From the War for the Quarterstar Shards series , Vol. 1

This fantasy debut tells the story of a mercenary who’s forced from retirement by an evil horde, warlike kingdoms, and an ancient prophecy.

In the world of Wrae-Kronn, a warrior named Alaezdar has outrun his violent past and settled in Valeland. For nearly a year, he’s worked the farm of Tharn, the village’s founder. Although he’s still considered an outsider, Alaezdar is acquainted with Morlonn the Hunter, and Aaelie, the washerwoman’s daughter. He lives in fear, however, that members of Rager’s House of Renegades—his former employers—will track him down and exact vengeance for his murder of the villainous Red Blade. Also problematic is the nearby Kingdom of Triel, for which Tharn has agreed to mine iron ore that’s used to produce toxic “Goblin Touched” steel. When Ambassador Krostos demands higher productivity from the village, Tharn agrees. But to assure production, the ambassador wants to take a hostage who would live in Triel—specifically, the lovely Aaelie. Meanwhile, the prophecy of Dar Drannon, a godlike, elven being who was wounded by a fallen star, weighs heavily upon the land; Tharn believes that Dar “is in human form, but he doesn’t know who he is yet and he has not been awakened.” In this start of a new series, author McDaniel lays strong groundwork, filled with rousing concepts, such as Alaezdar’s magical sword, Bloodseeker, which can heal the hero’s wounds, and the witch Fyaa, who arrived in Wrae-Kronn via a magical gate at the supposedly defunct elven tower, Aaestfallia Keep. The dynamic between Aaelie and Rivlok, a young man who loves her dearly, adds to the tension after she confesses that Alaezdar “brings a newness, and change, and possibly adventure” to their cloistered lives. McDaniel does enjoy telegraphing plot maneuvers, as when Gartan the Dark of the Watchers Guild warns, “The 89th Bloody Fang Goblin tribe has called upon their dark god,” which will leave readers less than surprised at a later development. However, solid pacing, consistently fun inventions, and the hero’s desire to resist the “prophecy game” result in an entertaining journey.

A somewhat predictable but still inventive fantasy-series opener.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68433-114-7

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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