Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Elric Returns and Others

Time Meddlers: Undercover
Deborah Jackson
Lachesis Publishing, September 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781897562437

In Ottawa, thirteen year old Matt Barnes and his best friend Sarah Sachs sneak into his home hoping to find clues to where his father is. They know he is caught back in time in the multiverse. They remain alert knowing his former caretaker and lab assistant Nadine is on the run. When Nadine breaks into the house, they observe her opening a hidden safe. After she leaves, they find microfilm inside the safe. Her father tells the two kids that the library has a reader. There they see highlights from WW II in Amsterdam.

After doing some research Matt recognizes the name of a Dutch undercover Special Operations Executive (SOE) operative Johanna “Celery” Van Duizen. They disobey her dad and reenter his father’s lab only Nadine follows them. They push her into the time portal in which lands her in 1942 in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. The pair follows in terms of time, but switch location to England only to run into trouble with an elite British Royal Air Force unit who ignores their warning that the SOE has a deadly fate awaiting them.

This is a great time travel thriller with a super surprising final twist. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as Matt is obsessed with rescuing his dad lost in time and Nadine having his back end up in WW II England and Amsterdam at a key point in which the Dutch resistance is in trouble. Deborah Jackson interweaves the Dutch resistance to the German occupation especially hiding Jews like Anne Frank and her family and other targeted people from the Nazis as a key element in the strong plot. Middle school readers and anyone who read or saw the movie The Diary of Anne Frank (except Holocaust deniers) will enjoy this fine sequel to the Time Meddlers as courage is an equal opportunity trait that ignores religion, ethnic origin, age and gender. Harriet Klausner

Hawkmoon: the Jewel in the Skull
Michael Moorcock
Tor, Jan 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780765324733

The Dark Empire of Granbretan has devastated their opponents who have tried to overthrow their harsh subjection. One such loser the Duke of Koln Dorian Hawkmoon attempted unsuccessfully to destroy the empire, but instead failed and became their pawn.

When Count Brass the lord of the city Kamarang rejects an offer of an alliance with Granbretan, imperial Baron Meliadus sends former rebel Hawkmoon to kidnap Brass' daughter, Yisselda. However, Hawkmoon has problems with carrying out the abduction order that goes against his values; besides his attraction to Yisselda, her father treats him with respect and kindness; reminding him of his original vow to destroy the evil Empire and his deep humiliation of bowing down to Meliadus.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed reprint of a 1960s sword and sorcery thriller that holds up nicely though contains little insight into life under the Black Jewel sorcery rule as the plot is linear. The hero makes the story line work as he believes his ultimate abjection is a betrayal of his own soul and when he meets the last holdout, Hawkmoon knows how far he has fallen in disgrace. Fans will enjoy Dorian’s efforts to regain what he lost when the Empire defeated his army; his impetus is the father and daughter who shower him with adulation and respect while he feels he deserves contempt. Future Europe has rarely looked as dark as the continent that Hawkmoon traverses. Harriet Klausner

Whisper of the Seventh Thunder
Larry Brooks
Sons of Liberty, Mar 1 2010, $17.00
Nashua, NH 03062
ISBN: 9780982403532

Over two thousand years ago on the Island of Patmos where John the Divine was exiled, the Angel of the Seven Thunders showed him visions that he was unable to write down. In the present, Gabriel Stone stood in the cave where John saw the angelic vision and he knows what the Jesus disciple saw. In that cave, he meets his wife and upon her death, Gabriel writes down the vision.

Writing the book in nine weeks, Gabriel feels as if someone putting the words in his brain. He takes his book to an agent who sells it to a publisher, but before it can be published, the agent and the publisher are dead. Two groups who do not want his book released because they believe the theme is not for public consumption; they go after Gabriel. In Israel, a supercomputer with cryptology software breaks down the vision, which involves people and events leading to the rise of the Antichrist. Gabriel’s name is on the list of key players, but regardless of God’s master plan and his role or any sect’s religious dogma, his goal is to prevent the slaughter of the innocent.

This is a fascinating enthralling apocalyptic thriller that deftly blends Brown, Clancy and LaHaye-Jenkins. The hero is a courageous person mindful of Moses in his belief that a nonentity like him who rested from his first day on earth until he entered the cave could not be a key player in the Lord’s plan, but like the Exodus leader does his best to do the mission and overcome his doubts. However, it is the fundamentalist Brethren group who grip the reader as these devout believers need the Antichrist to take his throne as they insist that is God’s plan and if millions die in support of their belief; so be it as long as the end of days begins.
Harriet Klausner

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