Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fantasy Reviews

Stalking the Dragon
Mike Resnick
PYR, Aug 4 2009, $15.98
ISBN: 9781591027454

In Manhattan, many folks look forward to the Eastminster Dragon Show. The favorite to win the Best in Show award at the competition this year is Fluffy the toy dragon. However, on the eve of the event, someone abducts Fluffy.

Private investigator John Justin Mallory still struggles with adjusting to a New York City unlike the one he comes from as the mythos do not live in his birth Big Apple. He is hired to find and rescue Fluffy in time for the show. Accompanied by his staff Felina and Jeeves, Mallory investigates the snatch even as time is running out on Fluffy making an appearance let alone be ready to win

The third Mallory in a rather different Manhattan is a jocular urban noir (see STALKING THE UNICORN and STALKING THE VAMPIRE) because of Mike Resnick’s lampooning of the city starting with the Eastminster Dragon Show and a trip to “Greenwitch Village”. The investigation is a lighthearted and engaging tour of an alternate Manhattan. Although the plot is lighthearted Fluffy fun thin, fans will enjoy Mallory and his team as they are STALKING THE DRAGON to rescue the toy dragon in time as the show must go on with or without the star. Harriet Klausner

Desolation Road
Ian McDonald
PYR, Sep 2009, $15.98
ISBN 9781591027447

Earthlings have colonized a small patch of Mars by terra-forming the planet. Amongst the settlements is a shabby locale with a few buildings on what is called Desolation Road. It is a weird place not so much because it look like it lives up to its name, but because of the people who reside there or periodically pass through there.

At one time it was the center of ROTECH and the Bethlehem Ares Corporation. Now that is a distant memory. However, folks like Catch the super snooker star and Adam Black with his Traveling Chautauqua and Educational 'Stravagana showcased the fallen angel always makes stops here. However, perhaps the most fascinating and weirdest is the founder Dr Alimantando, who leaps in and out time and place. This is a town that may be the center of weirdness in the galaxy.

This is a reprint of a 1988 super but strange science faiction that changes direction rather sharply yet somehow smoothly. The story line uses a deep focus into the ensemble cast to tell the vivid story of DESOLATION ROAD and in a sense earth’s colonization of Mars. There are many more characters than the few above as the town’s founder Dr. Alimantando leaps through time observing what is happening over three decades to his DESOLATION ROAD. Harriet Klausner

Dark Haven
Gail Z. Martin
Solaris, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781844165988

Three months have past since King Martris "Tris" Drayke defeated his brother, Jared the Usurper, and his ally Blood Mage Arontala (see THE BLOOD KING). Winning a war seems easy to Tris in retrospect. Now he must move on and rule a devastated kingdom. Apprehension remains high as some forces loyal to the Usurper continue to fight with enemy Lord Curane and his troops trapped at Lochlanimar and rumors spread that to the south a child has a legitimate claim to the throne. With all that Tris must find a way to feed and shelter his displaced refugee population especially with winter coming to freeze the lands to the north. Meanwhile Tris also prepares for his wedding ceremony with Princess Kiara.

He appoints his protector best friend Jonmarc Vahanian to take over as Lord of Dark Haven, a key estate to the north. Finally as the lord of their realm Margolan, Jonmarc negotiates with the Blood Council of vampires the Vayash Moru at a time when some of the vampires believe the mortals are unworthy of ruling especially since the Flow of magic The Flow is unbalanced, which means the blood magic of vampires is stronger than the light magic of the SUMMONER.

This is a super third tale that fans of the Necromancer fantasy saga will enjoy. Tris and Jonmarc learn how complex it is to change from rebel to ruler as they struggle to insure the kingdom’s subjects don’t starve to death or are further victims of war. Although well written, DARK HAVEN is a middle book that sets up the next entry as no major plot line is completed. Still exciting and well written, Gail Z. Martin provides a deep tale that makes the case that John Milton’s “Better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven” omits how much more difficult to rule is than to serve. Harriet Klausner

The Phoenix Transformed
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
Tor, Sep 2009, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765315953

Once Harrier Gillain and Tiercel Rolfort thought they would spend their entire lives in Armerthalieh, but that was prior to the latter receiving the power of high magic and visions of the Dark returning. Harrier had doubts about his best friend’s sanity, but not since their trek into the Elven lands where they learn that Tiercel was chosen by the Light to fight the Dark. Harrier leaves the lands of the elves a Knight-Mage.

Wildmage Bisochim believes the Dark must enter the world to bring balance. Through experiments, he creates the body of a woman imprisons the dark demon Aharin, released from the dimensional prison where her fellow demons reside. Her goal is to find a mage and create a new race of demons and release her fellow demons where she was imprisoned. Bisoschim used the trust of the Isvaieni trines of the Isva desert to kill the people in the border cities because he believed falsely they have given themselves over to the Dark thus creating the Unbalance. Once he realized he was manipulated by Aharin, he repents and does all he can to save the tribes with the help of Harrier and Tiercel. They travel the land seeking the demon in order to prove to the armies that demons walks the earth again. Aharin sends her walking dead Isvaieni, goblins and other magical beasts to destroy the Isvaieni .Harrier and Tiercel use their power to try and stop her and prevent the dark from coming bacl.

THE PHOENIX TRANSFORMED is an exciting sword and sorcery epic which will remind the audience of the Jews in Exodus as the Isvaieni tribes roam the desert hoping to find the way home by defeating the Dark. Harrier and Tierce are great characters and buddies who have matured considerably since THE PHOENIX UNCHAINED and THE PHOENIX ENDANGERED; each understands they may die for the better good. Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory provide adult and teen readers a strong epic fantasy. That is enthralling and a joy to read. Harriet Klausner

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