Sunday, May 30, 2010

Magick, Demons and Vampires

Kiss of Death
Rachel Caine
Signet, Apr 27 2020, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229731

Morganville, Texas was founded by vampires led by Amelia who sought a safe haven for her species from human hunters. The town is a melting pot of sorts but to keep mortals safe, each human resident has a vampiric Protector. Blood is dispensed at blood banks and no one is allowed to leave once you enter although Amelia has allowed one exception; Claire, Shane, Michael and Evie may go to Dallas so that the vampire Michael can record his music.

On their way, their guard and escort Oliver has them stop in Durrram where he and Michael conduct business while leaving Claire alone. However, Morley and his vampiric followers who oppose the Morganville rules hijack them. Michael and Oliver rescue the others, but they end up on the deserted town of Blacke. The Morley vampires attack, but something more feral assaults both sides as zombie vampires seek to dine on each of the combatants.

The eighth Morganville Vampire saga is different than most of the previous entries as the heroes are outside the town so obtain a taste where the local rules do not apply. Thus the audience sees a diverse species as vampires come in different types and philosophies especially re humans. A refreshing and totally entertaining tale, Kiss of Death is a super Texas fantasy as the Rachel Caine’s world of vampires expands to the delight of teen readers and us folks in the Twilight of our years. Harriet Klausner

The Desert Spear
Peter V. Brett
Del Rey, Apr 13 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345503817

Ahmann Jardir has united the Krasia desert tribes under his rule claiming he is the Shar’Dama Ka Deliverer who can destroy the night demons. He yields an ancient spear and wears a crown as old as his weapon as he leads his demon killing army towards the cities of the north.

Others also claim to be the legendary Shar’Dama Ka. In the north there is Arlen Bales although he insists he is not the Deliver, but the Warded Man; whose tattooed skin contains magical wards that devastate demonic opponents. These two charismatic leaders have arrived at critical juncture as humanity has all but lost the night to the demon hordes. Jardir and Arlen were brothers in arms, but are now opponents whose rivalry further divides the humans. Key supporters like Jardir’s ambitious psychic wife Inevera, Leesha the warding healer and Rojer the fiddler with the magical music struggle with who to support. This is a particular bad time to remain at odds as a new demonic breed has challenged the humans leaving those like Renna in dire straits.

The sequel to the Warded Man continues Jardir’s conquests though he seems heroic rather than brutal as he did in the first fantasy thanks in part to his Machiavellian wife coming across more villainous than him. Fast-paced and filled with tons of action as armies battle on the epic scale, The Desert Spear is an exhilarant saga even with romance including for the Wild Thing “as love is all around us, it’s everywhere we go” (the Troggs did have another hit). Readers will enjoy the second entry as the Deliver and the Warded Man are opponents at a time humanity cannot afford divertive internal strife. Harriet Klausner

The Long Man
Steve Englehart
Tor, Mar 16 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765317308

Max August would like to return to his simpler life as a DJ during the Reagan Era, but ever since he became the timeless Point Man mage sandwiched between the war of chaos and order, he knows he can never go back. Two plus decades later, still looking in his thirties and not his fifties, his friend Fern calls him on his iPhone; a voice he had not heard in six years. She needs his help.

Someone using powerful magick has assaulted researcher Dr. Pamela Blackwell. Her work on curing the zombie plague is looking promising. An unknown super cabal the Free Range Coalition has plans for global control and Blackwell’s work could br a major interference to their plans. When Max intervenes, the FRC sends hordes of killing zombies after the Timeless mortal.

Over the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, Juliana in Suriname and Mount Hillaby in the Barbados, the Long Man is en engaging thriller that is fun to read; just ignore credibility especially of the throwback comic book villains. Fast-paced as Max and Pam elude the enemy while also killing some along the way, readers will enjoy the return of the Point Man. Harriet Klausner

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