Such is the allure of an extremely talented writer at the height of her powers.

CROWN OF RENEWAL

From the Paladin's Legacy series , Vol. 5

Final entry (Limits of Power, 2013, etc.) in the Paladin’s Legacy series.

Once again, rather than a monolithic existential threat, multitudinous intrigues and designs move the story forward. Arian, wife of Lyonya’s King Kieri, poisoned by an iynisin (evil elf-mage) blade, languishes, while Kieri, warned by Dragon to release mages trapped in the past, needs to discover his innate Old Human magic. In neighboring Tsaia, iynisin attack and grievously wound King Mikeli’s brother, Camwyn; Dragon is willing to heal Camwyn, but the price is that Mikeli may never see his brother again. Mage powers continue to appear in both nobles and commoners—a development opposed so vehemently by traditionalists that they are prepared to murder children to stamp it out. Jandelir Arcolin finds himself preoccupied with the gnomes who have declared him their prince, their all-encompassing Law and their concern for the Law’s correct application. Mikeli wonders what the iynisin intruders were after and concludes they sought the mysterious sentient regalia that reposes in a box that none save former mercenary Dorrin, Duke Verrakai, may open or even move. The regalia itself orders Dorrin to take the box on a perilous quest to a distant land, a journey that Dorrin herself does not expect to survive. Moon offers convincingly realized characters persuasively shaped by the extraordinary richness, depth and texture of the world they inhabit and the low-key yet knotty problems they must confront. So mesmerizing is the narrative that it’s a sad surprise having to emerge into the mundane world at story’s end. While fully satisfying, this conclusion leaves ample scope for further embellishment or spinoffs: excellent news for all concerned.

Such is the allure of an extremely talented writer at the height of her powers.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53309-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally...

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NINTH HOUSE

Yale’s secret societies hide a supernatural secret in this fantasy/murder mystery/school story.

Most Yale students get admitted through some combination of impressive academics, athletics, extracurriculars, family connections, and donations, or perhaps bribing the right coach. Not Galaxy “Alex” Stern. The protagonist of Bardugo’s (King of Scars, 2019, etc.) first novel for adults, a high school dropout and low-level drug dealer, Alex got in because she can see dead people. A Yale dean who's a member of Lethe, one of the college’s famously mysterious secret societies, offers Alex a free ride if she will use her spook-spotting abilities to help Lethe with its mission: overseeing the other secret societies’ occult rituals. In Bardugo’s universe, the “Ancient Eight” secret societies (Lethe is the eponymous Ninth House) are not just old boys’ breeding grounds for the CIA, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and so on, as they are in ours; they’re wielders of actual magic. Skull and Bones performs prognostications by borrowing patients from the local hospital, cutting them open, and examining their entrails. St. Elmo’s specializes in weather magic, useful for commodities traders; Aurelian, in unbreakable contracts; Manuscript goes in for glamours, or “illusions and lies,” helpful to politicians and movie stars alike. And all these rituals attract ghosts. It’s Alex’s job to keep the supernatural forces from embarrassing the magical elite by releasing chaos into the community (all while trying desperately to keep her grades up). “Dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway: Do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.” A townie’s murder sets in motion a taut plot full of drug deals, drunken assaults, corruption, and cover-ups. Loyalties stretch and snap. Under it all runs the deep, dark river of ambition and anxiety that at once powers and undermines the Yale experience. Alex may have more reason than most to feel like an imposter, but anyone who’s spent time around the golden children of the Ivy League will likely recognize her self-doubt.

With an aura of both enchantment and authenticity, Bardugo’s compulsively readable novel leaves a portal ajar for equally dazzling sequels.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31307-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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