A tale of a general’s perilous mission for those who like their fantasy severe and realistic.

A Foreign Shore


In this sequel, demons and unexplained magic disrupt lands already torn by war and an empire’s greed.

The city of Kafra, in Chatmakstan, has just been seized by the empire-building Akkadians. Prince Krion and his army parade on horseback through Heroes Square. Suddenly, flaming stones begin raining from the sky. When the assault ends, Krion consults with Gen. Singer and a Witch named Lamya, who blames fire demons from another plane of existence. As Krion commands her to learn more, he assigns Singer the mission of penetrating the southern desert of Berbat. Meanwhile, the Bandeluk soldier Raeesha believes she is pregnant with Singer’s child. She’s afraid to tell him, however, because it may cost him his military career and invite scorn from the man she loves. When he asks her to become an officer and train female soldiers, she grows upset and runs from his quarters. Outside, it begins raining blood. Hooded figures then kidnap Raeesha and bring her to Lamya. The Witch learns Raeesha’s connection to these odd events is her infection by a demon embryo. It must be excised before its power manifests in more dangerous ways. In this second volume of his series, Johnson (Clothes Make a Man, 2013) continues complex worldbuilding with inventive demons and tense tribal relations. Fiendish creations like the fui—reptilian humanoids hiding gruesome faces behind masks that remind Singer of the goddess Narina—are formidably unique. They aid Singer in his operation, and flesh out one of many parallel narratives, including the tracking of a spy ring, and the imprisoning of Singer’s former fiancee, Erika, in the Akkadian capital of Elohi. Yet taken together, these story threads convey lots of forward movement that never quite sweeps up readers emotionally. That the author’s world is reminiscent of the modern-day Middle East is tragic and undeniable; an old man tells Singer about his encamped soldiers, “You can stay there a hundred years if it pleases you.” A following volume may illuminate the Akkadian emperor’s plans.

A tale of a general’s perilous mission for those who like their fantasy severe and realistic.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-78428-0

Page Count: 296

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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