THE SAVAGE DAMSEL AND THE DWARF

In Morris's third (Squire's Tale, 1998; The Squire, the Knight and the Lady, 1999) wry, sometimes hilarious, take on an Arthurian legend, a sharp-tongued young damosel gets an education in sorcery, intrigue and what true knighthood is all about. To save her beautiful, if vapid, older sister Lyonesse from the clutches of a bloodthirsty suitor, Lynet sets out on her own to recruit a champion from Camelot. She returns with a savvy, but inept, dwarf, Roger, and a kitchen knave dubbed `Beaumains` who, from his adroit sword work and obsession with fighting every armored comer to the death, is obviously a knight in disguise. Though Lynet is deeply smitten, in time she loses both her infatuation and at least some of her romantic illusions, incidentally gaining along the way grounding in sorcery and herb lore. There's plenty of violence here, and not the cartoon sort either, but Morris doesn't glorify it; instead, he populates the woods (every clearing, it sometimes seems) with knights of every stripe, from murderous brutes and big talkers to mild mannered, sensible sorts—including among the latter the renowned Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain. Ultimately realizing that her true hero has been literally under her nose the whole time, Lynet douses Roger with a magic potion that not only heals a mortal wound, but, to her amazement turns him back into (tah-dah!) Sir Gaheris, Prince of Orkney. As Beaumains turns out to be Sir Gareth, his featherbrained brother and so a perfect match for Lyonesse, the tale ends with a grand double wedding. Fans of Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted (1997), Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and similarly lighthearted fantasy will be delighted. (afterword) (Fiction. 1115)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-97126-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

CROOKED KINGDOM

From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance.

RULE OF WOLVES

From the King of Scars Duology series , Vol. 2

Following King of Scars (2019), the world’s a powder keg of political hostilities and existential threats.

In a juggling act between viewpoint characters, readers follow far-ranging intrigues inside countries, between countries, and between individuals. King Nikolai faces imminent threats from Fjerda, rumors of his bastardy that threaten to dethrone him, complicated trade relations with both Zemeni and Kerch, and an engagement to Princess Ehri of Shu Han—despite her sister, Queen Makhi, having schemed to kill both of them. Zoya, Nikolai’s loyal general, is handed a series of nigh-impossible assignments, including some having to do with the Darkling. Meanwhile, deeply embedded Nina spies on Fjerda, working to undermine the rumors surrounding Nikolai’s parentage, uncover Fjerda’s military plans, manipulate their royals toward a more peaceful path, and secretly sway the population’s view of Grisha. And all over the world, a mysterious blight suddenly appears, destroying everything in its path. Sprinklings of recaps and lots of action help to prevent the massively intricate world from becoming overwhelming. Battles in particular shine, not just for their action, but for the questions they pose about the direction of warfare in an arms race. The multiethnic cast that includes queer characters and relationships showcases a White-passing biracial character grappling with identity and another character’s trans-coded journey. A big finish manages to tidy up almost all ends but still leaves space for more to come.

A wild ride both fantastical and grounded in nuance. (Orders of Grisha guide, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-14230-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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