Should satisfy existing fans but won't tempt many newcomers.

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DRAGON VENOM

Conclusion to Watt-Evans’s fantasy trilogy (Dragon Weather, 1999; The Dragon Society, 2001).

Previously, young Arlian, sole survivor of a dragon attack on the village Obsidian, accidentally ingested a mixture of human blood and deadly, corrosive dragon venom—and thereby became a “dragonheart.” Charismatic, strong, fast, and invulnerable to most poisons, Arlian is destined to live a thousand years. As a downside, he will become less and less human and eventually will die when a new dragon claws its way out of his chest. Unlike most dragonhearts, Arlian burns for vengeance upon the creatures that made him what he is. And now he knows two crucial facts: dragons, once considered invulnerable, can be slain with weapons tipped with obsidian; and, though dragons don't eat, they prey on humans because they consume souls! Arlian, taking advantage of the dragons’ midwinter torpor, slaughters them as they slumber in their caverns. But as the number of dragons dwindles, so does their magic, allowing the wild magic, evil wizards, and monsters of the Borderlands to encroach on the Lands of Man. After journeying into the Borderlands to consult with the powers there, Arlian wonders why the mixture of human blood and dragon venom is such a potent elixir. Cold-bloodedly, he experiments on animals to see whether the elixir might create other kinds of magical beings. The results are disturbing. And, naturally, his plans will be violently opposed by the other dragonhearts and their surviving dragon allies.

Should satisfy existing fans but won't tempt many newcomers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30279-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2003

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS

Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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