Venus Guy Trap
Forge, Feb 2 2010, $13.99
Venus “Aphrodite” Cronus may be the Goddess of Love and daughter of Zeus, but she is slaving on earth as a matchmaker. In Bander, Oregon she finds a sigma in a bookstore window that is her target for a love life makeover. Her name is Haydee Miller, whose parents she matched over three decades ago.
Haydee has been going out lately with losers and fears she will fail at the next step on her list; getting married at thirty-three. The list is sacred to her as it gave her comfort when her mom died when she was sixteen. Any deviation has been disastrous. She has six weeks plus to find her mate.
Venus introduces herself and for some unknown reason Haydee hires her and allows her to move into her home. Venus insists she is the Goddess of Love. Two days later Venus says Prince Charming is entering the store. Haydee has a convulsion as anyone but Derek Reed is acceptable. He deserted her to become a world famous photographer. Haydee tells Venus she stinks at matchmaking. They met soon after her mom died and he blew a knee ending his football ambition; they became an entry until he left abruptly. Haydee asks Derek why he is back. He says he missed her. Venus knows her mission is more than matching soulmates with a history; as she also needs to reconcile father and daughter while eluding men who want her and women jealous with Venus Envy.
The cast is extremely well drawn, Aphrodite owns the show as the matchmaker Goddess of Love insists the one man the lead female hates is her true love while she also deals with every male wanting her at a time she wants to go home. The rotation of lead between Venus and Haydee provides a wider perspective to this fun lighthearted urban romantic fantasy. Harriet Klausner
DAW, Mar 2 010, $27.95
Southmarch Castle is eyed by two opposing groups while its rightful ruler King Olin Eddon is taken hostage by the ruler of Hierosol. Hendon Tolly has become de facto ruler of Shadowmarch, but he failed to trap Olin’s twin children Barrick and Briony The Autarch of Ixix kidnaps King Olin and they travel to Shadowmarch Castle for his own diabolical purposes.
Barrick is entranced by the fairy (Qar) Yasammez and goes behind The Shadow Line where the Qar live in perpetual twilight. He has a mission to perform for her but he has many obstacles to overcome and enemies to deal with as he travels across the fairylands. Briony travels to Syan where she is treated as a royal. She hopes to obtain enough support to return home with an army in order to dispose Tolly. Prince Enas is enchanted with Briony and she starts to have feelings for him which makes it impossible to use him and his army in to further her schemes.
The Qar surround Southmarch Castle until Yassammel orders the attack. Under the castle lies the city of Funderling Town populated by humanoid beings that are cousins to draws who live with and fight for the Qar. Briony is accused of treason, but escapes while the Autarch of Ixix reveals his plans for King Olin which if they come to fruition will allow him to be a god but he must he triumphs over the Qar, the Funderlings and an unexpected army friendly to Shadowmarch. Several warring forces converge all claiming a kingdom as theirs.
The third Shadowmarch saga (see Shadowplay and Shadowmarch) continues where SHADOWPLAY leaves off so it behooves newcomers to peruse those tales first even with a strong synopsis to remind readers what previously happened. Tad Williams has created a great storyline that adds much to his enthralling epic fantasy as several rivals are going to Southmarch Castle. Yet with plenty of sprawling action, the characters, especially the twins, drive the story line forward to the cliffhanging ending to be continued in SHADOWHEART. Harriet Klausner
Dust of Dreams
Tor, Jan 19 2010, $17.99
East of the Letherii Empire lies the Wastelands and the Glass desert where Malazan 14the Army Commander Adjunct Tavore leads her troops, the Bonehunters into exile. Joining them on their excursion is the Letherii imperial legions under the command of Brys Beddict. Expected to meet them are the Perish Grey Helms and Khundryl Burned Tears, but they are betrayed as they try to cross the Kingdom of Bolkando at the same time on the Ar'kryn plains while the Barghast White Face clans deal with treachery from within also. While all this military movement and treachery occurs, the Shake seeks their ancestral home the First Shore, which will cause an ancient reawakening.
As these various races of mortals and ascendants come together, the sky is on fire. Also as the heavens seem under a growing inferno, a god has escaped imprisonment to return to regain his lost power spreading Darkness over the continent. The allies know they go to war to die as the enemy is much more powerful, but ironically though they bravely face their mortality, each knows they fight to protect an empire that has exiled them.
This is the first of the a two part climax to the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga and though much of reaching the finish line will be in the last half, Dust of Dreams has plenty of action including a superb cliffhanger. There is the usual too much internal introspection by seemingly a zillion of the quadrillion cast, which makes keeping score as always complicated and convoluted. Still fans of the saga will enjoy the set-up as Steven Erikson seems ready to end the epic on a high note if the quality level of first part of the final duology is held up in part two.