Imagine Alexandre Dumas’s account of H.G. Wells’s Martians invading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.
On Earth-like Verral, one of the moonworlds that orbit ringed planet Miral, Wayfarer Constable Inspector Danolarian Scryverin (Voyage of the Shadowmoon, 2002) has assumed the identity of a dead adventurer to conceal his aristocratic background. Ordered to track down the missing Empress, Wensomer, Danolarian and his constables pursue a trail that leads to the royal observatory high in the mountains, where Danolarian corners the empress—a powerful sorceress in no mood to be trifled with. Meanwhile, red, Mars-like moonworld Lupan rocks to a series of ten vast explosions, as if sorcery has run out of control there. On returning to the city Alberin, Danolarian finds that he and his love, Lavenci (Wensomer’s sister), have been magically chained together yet unable to touch without feeling agonizing pain. Meanwhile, the first cylinder—for yes, the explosions were caused by voidships being launched from Lupan—arrives, to disgorge large, tentacled creatures who swiftly construct a huge, fighting tripod complete with devastating heat ray that can melt stone from a mile away. The invading Lupanians, it turns out, are sorcerers who revel in the much richer etheric forces available on Verral, and who seek to drain their victims of life-force. Verral is doomed, or so it would seem.
A vibrant, thoughtful, spectacular adventure-drama that sags only a trifle towards the end. McMullen borrows freely, but weaves his own magical comedy of horrors. The result: a blast.