An epic, exciting tale of knighthood and vampires.

ALAMPTRIA

RED MOON RISING

An epic medieval fantasy chronicling the trials and tribulations of Elysium, a 15th-century kingdom under threat by evil, but protected by the Seaton brothers and their magical claymores.

Packed with all the trappings and tropes of the sword and sorcery genre, this first book in a planned series opens with the standard augur: a child shall be born, and this child shall set the people free. But this tale isn’t myopically focused on a barrel-chested man-child and his blood-spattering adventures—though that doesn’t mean there isn’t any fun. The white-hot first chapter sees a prominent and sinister Bramonian woman seduced, ravished and finally murdered by the mighty Andromin Seaton, one of a trio of brothers who guide the fate of the good kingdom of Elysium. On his retreat from his recon, Andromin encounters a fearsome creature who speaks in opaque riddles and an inflection borrowed from the cutesy-speak of The Lord of the Rings’Gollum. The creature poisons Andromin and hurries off, and it’s in this effectively creepy exchange that the seeds of Alamptria’s chaos are first sewn. In a whirlwind of exposition, the book introduces characters of all moral shades and slyly hints at their significances. Andromin’s brother, Confidus, is the central protagonist, but it’s Andromin’s final revelation about his place in the family that will keep readers burning through the pages until the end. After a regicide whose motives are too byzantine to understand at first, the Seaton brothers, armed with their claymores of power, realize that the Bramonian war was only skirmish in a much larger struggle between the powers of light and dark: Makoor and his vampire cult are on the move. The novel marries the worlds of Tolkien and Stoker in a diction befitting the story’s epic scale, and the mythology is unique enough to get away with it despite a few overwrought moments. However, the sometimes orbital prose does harmonize with the larger-than-life settings and deliciously operatic characters.

An epic, exciting tale of knighthood and vampires.

Pub Date: June 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4520-0106-7

Page Count: 424

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2010

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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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

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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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