A well-rounded cliffhanger of an opening to a series likely to engage fans of medieval-themed fantasy.

Invasion Of The Ortaks

THE KNIGHT

In the first installment of Benónýsson’s Invasion of the Ortaks fantasy series, a tale of political intrigue and unlikely camaraderie takes shape on the continent of Esthopia.

When Carl the Ranger is almost murdered by two foreign soldiers in the wilderness, it becomes clear that something sinister inhabits the otherwise peaceful Esthopian nation of Eniktronia. Saved in the nick of time by the battle-ready Princess Egny—the niece of Eniktronia’s King Haakon—Carl travels with her through the countryside, attacking the encampments of these dark-clad invaders. While lodged at an inn for the night, enemies posing as local tavern-goers make an attempt on her life. News of the attack reaches the king, who sends Sir Klaus eastward across the outlaw-riddled Bending Pass and into the country of Antonia to learn more about the assassination plot. As the knight makes his way, he and his team uncover a conspiracy that implicates even Eniktronia’s closest allies. What’s more, they confirm fears that inhabitants of Orknia, a southern land, separated from Esthopia by sea, have seized the port of Rutan and declared war on the continent. In the middle of this tumult, the team also helps Egny face the onus of royal responsibility when her grandfather, the king of Otanga, dies and leaves her a special inheritance. The novel, filled with well-wrought adventure, hosts a large cast, from the warm Asgrim to the foolhardy Gils, their back stories as attention-grabbing as the main narrative. We learn, for instance, the unsettling history of Christopher, a trader who freed two condemned slaves and joined forces with Klaus against the incoming Ortaks. Given its whirlwindlike pace, the plot’s speed sometimes comes at the expense of clarity but never so much as to obscure the essentials. Benónýsson convincingly sketches the lives of handfuls of Esthopians who, faced with the prospect of war with a brutal tribe and betrayal among their ranks, band together—building interest for the series’ next installment.

A well-rounded cliffhanger of an opening to a series likely to engage fans of medieval-themed fantasy.

Pub Date: May 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-312-13310-5

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her...

DISTANT SHORES

Another middle-aged mom in a muddle.

After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth’s ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn’t want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won’t it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her “sugar beet” ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie’s dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45071-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

more