Another stunning, self-contained yarn that firmly establishes Turner in the fantasy front ranks.

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RED TIDE

The final part of this inventive and ferocious fantasy trilogy (Dragon Hunters, 2016, etc.) deftly combines characters from both previous entries—those that are still alive, anyway, and even some that weren’t.

The Augerans are ancient enemies of the Erin Elalese, who defeated them and drove them into exile hundreds of years ago. Now they're back, and they've dispatched an invasion fleet. Standing athwart the fleet’s passage to the shores of Erin Elal are the Rubyholt Isles, a maze of rocks and waterways occupied by barbaric pirate tribes. The Augerans attempt to bribe their way through. Although the fighting picks up practically from the first page, what drives the convincing and impressively sustained action sequences are the witty style, splendid minor characters, ingenious magics, and, above all, lead characters with deeply obscured motives and no reason to trust anybody else. The Storm Lady, Mazana Creed, water-mage and now undisputed ruler of the Storm Isles, who in Book 2 killed the mad god Fume and absorbed some of his powers, finds that she’s been tricked by the dead god’s priestess into becoming a blood mage—a development to which she is not averse. Romany Elivar, a priestess of the goddess Spider and who was killed in Book 1, returns; with doubled irony, she’s now posing as the priestess of a nonexistent god and occupying the body of an assassin slain in Book 2. Guardian Senar Sol, who now serves Mazana Creed while spending much time fighting with her bodyguards and mercenaries, or Revenants, suspects duplicity on the part of Avallon, the Erin Elalese emperor who sent him blindly and callously through a magic gate to the Storm Isles. Turner finishes up with some intriguing stage-setting for further installments and the prospect of even more titanic struggles.

Another stunning, self-contained yarn that firmly establishes Turner in the fantasy front ranks.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3714-6

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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If this first volume is any indication, James’ trilogy could become one of the most talked-about and influential adventure...

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BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF

Wrought with blood, iron, and jolting images, this swords-and-sorcery epic set in a mythical Africa is also part detective story, part quest fable, and part inquiry into the nature of truth, belief, and destiny.

Man Booker Prize winner James (A Brief History of Seven Killings, 2014 etc.) brings his obsession with legend, history, and folklore into this first volume of a projected Dark Star Trilogy. Its title characters are mercenaries, one of whom is called Leopard for his shape-shifting ability to assume the identify of a predatory jungle cat and the other called Tracker for having a sense of smell keen enough to find anything (and anybody) lost in this Byzantine, often hallucinatory Dark Ages version of the African continent. “It has been said you have a nose,” Tracker is told by many, including a sybaritic slave trader who asks him and his partner to find a strange young boy who has been missing for three years. “Just as I wish him to be found,” he tells them, “surely there are those who wish him to stay hidden.” And this is only one of many riddles Tracker comes across, with and without Leopard, as the search takes him to many unusual and dangerous locales, including crowded metropolises, dense forests, treacherous waterways, and, at times, even the mercurial skies overhead. Leopard is besieged throughout his odyssey by vampires, witches, thieves, hyenas, trickster monkeys, and other fantastic beings. He also acquires a motley entourage of helpers, including Sadogo, a gentle giant who doesn’t like being called a giant, Mossi, a witty prefect who’s something of a wizard at wielding two swords at once, and even a wise buffalo, who understands and responds to human commands. The longer the search for this missing child continues, the broader its parameters. And the nature of this search is as fluid and unpredictable as the characters’ moods, alliances, identities, and even sexual preferences. You can sometimes feel as lost in the dizzying machinations and tangled backstories of this exotic universe as Tracker and company. But James’ sensual, beautifully rendered prose and sweeping, precisely detailed narrative cast their own transfixing spell upon the reader. He not only brings a fresh multicultural perspective to a grand fantasy subgenre, but also broadens the genre’s psychological and metaphysical possibilities.

If this first volume is any indication, James’ trilogy could become one of the most talked-about and influential adventure epics since George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire was transformed into Game of Thrones.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2017-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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