A triumphant tale that will certainly appeal to lovers of dense, intricate fantasies with strong characters and fully...

THE LAST SEER KING

From the Shadow Sword series , Vol. 2

In this sequel, a lord tries to resurrect a ghoul changeling in a war-ravaged world.

A great battle has ended in a kingdom indebted to an array of gods—and where ghouls attack unprotected villages—with an Isles victory. But ghoul changeling Kaell is dead; Lord Vraymorg is wounded; and the new king, Gendrick Caelan, has forged an alliance with a most unlikely friend: Archanin, the ghoul god. Ice Lord Heath Damadar, continually playing multiple sides of a complicated political game, must bring Prince Aric Caelan, the military commander of the Isles, to Myranthe, Damadar’s sister. She intends to raise the legendary death riders once again. Lord Vraymorg, having been revealed to warriors in the heat of battle as Val Arques, “the king’s man,” who has lived for hundreds of years, attempts to resurrect his charge Kaell with ancient blood magic. Unbeknown to him, his attempt works, bringing Kaell back in the dying body of Princess Azenor. When Lord Vraymorg and Aric are abducted by Damadar at Myranthe’s request, Kaell flees in his unfamiliar body. He is captured by Varee slavers and introduced to the serious and solemn warrior Dannon. Having defeated Dannon in a duel, Kaell, who now calls himself Kate, is made to renounce the war god Khir and swear allegiance to the god of the Varee, at least until he can determine whether or not Lord Vraymorg still lives. In Hartland’s (The 19th Bladesman, 2018) tale of intrigue, the stories of several well-developed characters, all with their own motivations, fears, and destinies, come together to tell the larger, complex saga of this violent, ruthless, war-torn world. (The book features a useful map of this realm at the front and a list of dramatis personae at the back that clarifies characters’ roles.) As in the series’ previous installment, this novel weaves interpersonal battles, political conflict, and fast-paced action into a tale chock full of fantasy adventures sure to please fans of the genre. Though the first novel was very well written, this second volume proves that Hartland is improving as she presses forward, with more convincing characterization and a story that reads smoothly and swiftly.

A triumphant tale that will certainly appeal to lovers of dense, intricate fantasies with strong characters and fully realized worlds.

Pub Date: July 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-648-43723-9

Page Count: 609

Publisher: Dark Blade Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

more