THE JACKAL OF NAR

Jumbo fantasy, the first of a series entitled Tyrants and Kings, from newcomer Marco. Arkus, Emperor of Nar, has ordered Prince Richius Vantran of Aramoor and his army into Lucel-Lor to assist the autocratic Daegog against a popular uprising led by Tharn, a magic-wielding warrior-priest. But neither supplies nor reinforcements arrive, and Richius’s campaign seems lost—until cavalry sent by the emperor gallops to the rescue. Richius intervenes, however, when their commander, the cruel, arrogant Baron Gayle, attempts to rape the comely young Dyana. Promised in marriage to Tharn, spirited Dyana has rejected the union and fled. Furious, Tharn uses magic to grab Dyana and defeat all his enemies, despite the gods’ injunction that the magic be used only to heal and help. Richius sadly goes home, learning there that his father is dead. The emperor’s spymaster, Count Biagio, instructs Richius to attack Lucel-Lor again: the ancient, dying emperor will stop at nothing to obtain Lucel-Lor’s magic to make him immortal. Biagio warns of horrid consequences if Richius refuses, and gives him the lovely Lady Sabrina for his bride. Though Richius loves Dyana, he dares not refuse Sabrina. Later, Tharn persuades Richius to meet with him in Lucel-Lor. While Richius is away, Biagio deposes him and gives Sabrina to Gayle; the latter, horribly mutilated in the war, hates Richius more than ever. The gods, Richius discovers, have ruined Tharn’s body as punishment for misusing the magic. Yet though Dyana has married Tharn, her daughter is Richius’s. Gayle sends Richius Sabrina’s broken body. Finally, when Richius learns that his father was treacherously murdered, he sides with Tharn to help defend Lucel-Lor against the renewed imperial assault led by the monstrous Gayle. An absorbing, deftly plotted, forgivably overlong debut with promising character developments and a well-rounded, satisfying end.

Pub Date: March 9, 1999

ISBN: 0-553-37984-4

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Spectra/Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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

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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Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

From the Shades of Magic series , Vol. 1

A fast-paced fantasy adventure that takes readers into a series of interconnected worlds ruled by magic—or the lack of it.

Long ago, the doors between worlds were open, and anyone with magic could travel from one to the next. Now the doors are closed, and only a chosen few have the power to travel between Grey London, a world without magic, Red London, a world suffused with it, and White London, a world where magic is scarce, coveted and jealously guarded. As for Black London, the city consumed, no one would be so foolish as to risk a trip—not even Kell. Officially, he’s a royal messenger, carrying letters among the rulers of the three Londons. Unofficially, he’s a smuggler who collects artifacts from other worlds. It’s that habit that leads him to accept a dangerous relic, something that shouldn’t exist. And it’s when a wanted Grey London thief named Lila steals the artifact that the real trouble starts—for both of them. Schwab (Vicious, 2013, etc.) creates a memorable world—actually, three memorable worlds—and even more memorable characters. Lila in particular is a winningly unconventional heroine who, as she declares, would “rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” The brisk plot makes this a page-turner that confronts darkness but is never overwhelmed by it.

Fantasy fans will love this fast-paced adventure, with its complex magic system, thoughtful hero and bold heroine.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7645-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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