VANKOR by Neil  Winslow


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In this debut novel, a man cares for an infant humanoid lizard despite the hatred between the two species.

In the land of Enkratis, the Semuyan are humanoid lizards who live in villages adjacent to larger, more successful human settlements. After much war, peace reigns thanks to a year-old treaty. In the swamp of Vrock, Vulcan and Valeet raise a lone hatchling from a failed clutch. Dwindling resources require that the Semuyan attempt to ally themselves with the humans living to the north. In that settlement, called Westgrove, is a man named Xavier. When he sees Semuyan scouting near his land, he assumes the worst. Westgrove’s leaders decide to enlist the aid of an Anakite, a supposedly mythical giant twice the height of a man. The giant—along with 50 of its own warriors and some Westgrove men—heads to Vrock. The resulting slaughter leaves a single Semuyan alive. When Journeyman Teleth Lysander investigates the carnage, he finds the infant in hiding. In the capital city of Azimuth, the men of the Grand Assembly order Teleth to bring the child to the Semuyan king and sue for continued peace despite the slaughter in both Vrock and Westgrove. Can he survive the encounter and follow up his hunch that a third party has sown chaos between humans and Semuyan? In this carefully plotted fantasy, Winslow illustrates a semicivilized ancient world where kindness and tolerance are prized commodities. Xavier, for example, says of an attack on the Semuyan: “This is not an act of war, it is one of cleansing and preservation.” A quarter through the narrative, the author’s devastating philosophical thrust hits as Teleth speaks with a fellow Journeyman. “You say that all the lizard folk should die,” he replies. “But who is to say that all mankind doesn’t deserve to die as well?” In Enkratis, the violence has meaning, and Winslow boldly presents parallels with the modern world, like religious hypocrisy. The adventures of Teleth and Vankor, as the child is named, unfurl to the very end with both enchantment and foreboding.

An intellectually robust fantasy that explores the potential in tragedy.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4808-5792-6
Page count: 302pp
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2019


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