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

A Foreign Shore

RAIN OF FIRE, RAIN OF BLOOD

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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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