A complicated follow-up that pushes its cast to the physical and emotional brink.


From the Fourth Talisman series , Vol. 2

In this fantasy sequel set in ancient Persia, Ross (Nocturne, 2017) prepares her heroes to confront a banished tribe of fire-wielding elementals.

Nazafareen, whose parents were a mortal and a magical da?va, is in the city of Delphi. She’s under the protection of Kallisto, leader of the Maenads, a group of “virgin warriors” who fight for the god Dionysius. Kallisto is married to the historian Herodotus, who’s been imprisoned for witchcraft by the Archon Basileus. He faces imminent trial, and standing with him will be Nazafareen’s friend Javid, who was captured by soldiers in the previous installment. To help free them, Nazafareen and the Maenads investigate Kadmos and Serpedon, toadies of the Archon who likely planted forbidden spell dust in the historian’s study. The trial, however, seems to have already been fixed, orchestrated by the High Priestess of the Temple of Apollo; she’s searching for information on four talismans that helped imprison the clan called the Avas Vatras, 1,000 years ago. If the Vatras, da?vas who control fire, escape from the vast desert known as the Kiln, they’ll seek vengeance on the other elemental clans responsible for their imprisonment: the Danai, the Valkirins, and the Marakai. Meanwhile, the blind Valkirin Culach, who’s also in jail, forges a connection via his dreams with Farrumohr, a royal adviser who witnessed the Vatras’ fall. For this dense second volume of the Fourth Talisman series, Ross plots with Olympian vigor, packing her alternate version of Persia with complex characters and a multilayered mythos. Javid, a transgender man, steals numerous scenes as someone who embodies the notion that “life is too short to live as others would have us be.” Meanwhile, Darius, Nazafareen’s love interest, spends half the novel chained in the rooms of Thena, a priestess who intends to break him; when Thena falls in love with the indomitable hero, Ross does what she does best—creating subtle entanglements that intensify other subplots. This volume’s opening dilemma finds resolution, but there’s plenty still in flux to drive readers to an epic third installment.

A complicated follow-up that pushes its cast to the physical and emotional brink.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990481-4-6

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Acorn

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2018

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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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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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