Eos, May 11 2010, $27.99
Expelled from the Cassarik area by the fear of the locals of the new dragon hatchlings, the beasts and their mutated human keepers continue their journey to find the fabled lost city of Kelingra with danger and starvation every step along the deadly Rain Wild River. As the dragons mature, they become powerful fully developed while their keepers remain malformed but are well adjusted for the most part.
However finding the ancient Elderings’ vanished haven proves impossible as the collective memory of the landscape fails to match what the world along the Rain Wild River has become. Instead danger from flash floods and a scarcity of food as supplies dwindle threatens the explorers.
The sequel to the Dragon Keeper is an exciting climax to a well written duology that returns readers to the Hobbs’ realm of the Liveship Traders and the Tawny Man sagas. The story line is a coming of age fantasy especially of the naive female teenager Thymara who grows in confidence as she learns who to trust and more important to distrust. Although the rest of the cast seems somewhat interchangeable as shallowly deceptive or even shallower naive, fans of Robin Hobb will enjoy the trek along the Rain Wild River. Harriet Klausner
Bewitched and Betrayed
Ace, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
Seeker Raine Benares wants to go back to just finding missing things and people, but knows that will not happen at least for now. Instead, the elf is bonded to the soul-stealing Saghred stone and complicating matters she is also tri-umi'atsu bonded with Paladin Mychael Eiliesor and goblin Tamnais Nathrach.
As she wonders how a seeker could be tied up like this, one of the six evil mages who escaped from the Saghred wants her dead so he can control the rock, but needs to re-grow his goblin body first. Thus Sarad Nukpana is killing the most powerful essences with the umi'atsu trio the last to die for him to complete his quest of becoming an evil God.
This is an exciting action-packed fantasy filled with tension and jocularity as few authors can combine. Raine is terrific as she ironically wants to hide, but knows she cannot as her bonding will not allow her to do so nor the knowledge he is coming for her as she is the only thing between his achieving his goal. Readers will enjoy Bewitched and Betrayed as High Noon is coming to the mythological world of Shearin. Harriet Klausner
Guy Gavriel Kay
Roc, Apr 27 2010, $26.95
Second son Shen Tai has spent the last two years as the only living person amidst the forty thousand dead, burying the bones of the dead from both sides. He does this to honor his late father, Kitai Empire Left Side Commander of the Pacified West General Shen Gao who died here while leading his side to victory.
Tai’s endeavor is rewarded with the unexpected stunning gift of 250 Sardian “Heavenly Horses”, the greatest steeds on the planet. To obtain his gift, he must come in person to the Sardian Court of their former enemy so he leaves the ghostly mountain battlefield for the capital of the Kitai Empire, Xinan. Tai knows how valuable they are, but soon learns others agree as assassination attempts to send him to his late father begin even without his claiming the horses yet.
Under Heaven is a superb historical epic that builds off an ancient Chinese dynasty to tell a beautiful tale of power abused, betrayal, honor and love. The secondary characters enhance a strong sense of what the hero is going through as the audience will feel we accompany Shen Tai on his travels. Guy Gavriel Kay provides a deep saga of a hero rewarded and consequently assaulted for honoring his father by interring the remains of valiant soldiers from both sides to their ghosts can silently rest forever. Harriet Klausner