Friday, August 28, 2009

Harriet's Reviews for Friday

Twilight Of A Queen
Susan Carroll
Ballantine, Jul 21 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780449221099

In 1588 as the Spanish Armada sets sail to blockade England, the Dark Queen Catherine de Medici fears her control of the throne is tenuous for the first time in her long rule. Ailing and unable to directly confront her rival the Lady of the Faire Isle she turns to mage Louis Xavier, a notorious pirate who has used the dark arts to achieve his watery superiority.

However, for the first in his life, Louis is distracted by passionate and courageous Lady Jane Danvers. Meanwhile, Ariane Cheney protects her beloved Faire Isle from the Dark Queen as three women prepare for battle on the mundane and magical planes with one another for who will sit on the throne. Ariane anoints Jane as her heir, which sends the vicious Dark Queen after her. Louis vows to protect his beloved or die trying.

The final Faire Isle historical fantasy (see THE DARK QUEEN and THE SILVER ROSE) is a super tale with strong adversaries and allies, and a terific exhilarating story line that ties up the critical loose ends. Catherine de Medici is incredible as the evil one; Ariane appears to be her equal while Jane has to prove her worthiness under fire with Louis surprisingly as her protector with her supporters questioning his dark past. Fans will relish Susan Carroll’s regal yet dark sixtieth century as the war between the light and dark clash with a royal finality. Harriet Klausner

The Magicians
Lev Grossman
Viking, Aug 11 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780670020553

In Brooklyn, high school senior Quentin Coldwater conceals his only love in life, children fantasies from everyone else as he knows the ridicule would be unbearable. So Quentin is bored and miserable except when he hides in his closet re-reading Fillory and Further for the quadrillionth time. Drifting with no future, he stumbles upon a portal to the elusive and exclusive Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy and easily passes the impossible to pass for the magically deprived entrance exam.

Quentin feels uplifted as he has found his home. He and the other misfits from the mundane world begin to fit in together. He and reticent Alice become lovers and Eliot becomes his best friend. They learn at school how to apply the energy currents of the universe to cast spells; After graduating, in spite of Alice’s warnings, Quentin returns to drifting supplemented by drinking as he has had a taste of another life only to see it end with him back in the boring mundane. When he betrays Alice, Quentin feels remorse and misery as he has never felt before. However, he learns Fillory exists and seeing an opportunity to redeem himself with Alice, Quentin seeks purpose there, but finds the place much dangerous than the novels portrayed.

This is a deep dark romantic fantasy starring a strong cast while paying homage to classic young adult sagas like Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Lesley Simonton School for the Magically Gifted (trilogy by E. Rose Sabin). The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but totally owned by the relationships between Quentin and others especially with Alice and Eliot that drives the plot. Fans will enjoy Quentin’s quest for redemption as he returns to Fillory after letting down his Alice. Harriet Klausner

Obsidian Prey
Jayne Castle
Jove, Aug 25 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146899

On the planet Harmony, humans were not the first people to live there as an ancient race lived and traveled in underground buildings, tunnels and catacombs that cross the entire orb. The former inhabitants were strong in ESP and also left behind strong residual PSI that had the effect of brining out similar previously latent powers in humans.

Lyra Dore is one of the few who can work amethyst amber and has found a lode of amethyst strong in PSI in an underground rain forest. The Amber Inc CEO Cruz Sweetwater went undercover and worked on her until she told him about the find. He steals her lode. Three months later, he walks back into her life because his psychic powers have made him realize who his true love is. Cruz knows he must convince her that he will never betray her again as he loves her, but her distrust is strong even when someone threatens to kill him and kidnap her.

Whether she writes historical, contemporary or science fiction, Jayne Castle also known as Amanda Quick and Jayne Anne Krentz can be depended on for providing her readers with a blockbuster romance. Her myriad of fans can be counted on to buy any of her titles regardless of milieu and author name. Her latest return to Harmony affirms her writing skills as the planet is a great place to explore with Ms. Castle as the guide taking her devoted audience to the caverns filled with sizzling PSI energy. Lyra is wonderful as an independent prospector who learns from being burned; while intriguingly he does not regrets his actions but is burned more so as his obsidian and her amethyst is a fiery PSI heart and soul matching . This is another winning romance from a writer comfortable in several sub-genres. Harriet Klausner

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