Blood of the Mantis
PYR, May 25 2010, $16.00
With the Darakyon spirits as companions of sorts forcing him to complete his mission, Achaeos reaches Jerez an isolated marsh town. He knows time is running out before the Shadow Box is possessed by the Wasp Emperor. Achaeos struggles with regaining the stolen artifact before disaster strikes as not just the Wasp ruler wants it, so do beasts and traitors desire ownership; all know the possessor rules the world.
In the Lowlands, the other the tribes of the Empire hope to strike back as the divided groups prepare for a counter surge against the mighty Wasp army expected spring invasion. Led by spymaster Stenwald Maker, they know their chances are bleak once the spring offensive from their enemy begins. However, the real fight is in Jerez.
The third Shadows of the Apt military fantasy (see Dragonfly Falling and Empire in Black and Gold) is a great tale that contains two strong subplots. First there is the owning of the Shadow Box, which dictates in many ways (but not all) who the winner will be in the conflict and then there is the military preparation leading to the bloody spring offensive. Blood of the Mantis is a wonderful entry in a powerful saga as Adrian Tchaikovsky provides another intelligent parable of the foibles of society with racism, fear-mongering, and loathing the cornerstones of a military-magical solution. Harriet Klausner
The Unincorporated War
Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin.
Tor. May 2010, $25.99
The Unincorporated Man Jason Cord led a rebellion against the tyranny of corporations that ruled the solar system. His revolt partially succeeded as the Outer Alliance broke free of the inner planets who remain mindlessly controlled by the corporations. Jason becomes the president of the OA, but knows he will never return to earth where he is an outlaw.
Fearing the rebellion widening and believing the outer planets are colonies, Earth dispatches its starship armada to destroy the breakaway alliance. Jason knows his side is in trouble as the enemy is much more powerful and feels remorse that he sends soldiers to die, but refuses to surrender. Instead he sends a counter force to battle the enemy’s militia.
This sequel to the Unincorporated Man is a fast-paced military science fiction. With a lot more solar system space battles and much less political intrigue than its predecessor, The Unincorporated war is action-packed throughout, but lacks the nuances of extrapolating trends from today’s corporate-political-judicial (since Citizen United decision) complex. Still this is a top rate outer space thriller.
The Infinity Gate
Eos, Jun 1 2010, $26.99
With Tencendor gone, trapped inside the Tower of Elcho Falling is its Lord Maximilian, fallen god heroic Axis SunSoar, and Serpent Coil Priestess Isabelle Brunelle and their comrades. Though have raised the magic of the tower, they are in deep trouble. Their adversaries are coming from every location tightening the grip on those besieged inside the magic tower. Those who come arrive with one intent: kill all caught inside.
From the tundra to the north arrive the traitorous winged Lealfast and from the south come the ferocious Skraelings. However, the most dangerous and lethal enemy is the One, who absorbs Infinity magic from the DarkGlass Pyramid. Those trapped have no hope of surviving for themselves or their world as betrayal by a key ally leaves them seemingly defenseless. Yet Axis raises his Strike Force using the Star Dance magic to fight back while a glimmer might be Ravenna the Marsh witch who no one trusts.
The third DarkGlass Mountain fantasy (see The Twisted Citadel and The Serpent Bride) is a great action-packed finish to a top rate trilogy as revelations and twists will keep the audience fully occupied with what comes next. The action never slows down while the cast is top rate. Readers will fully relish Sara Douglas’ strong epic as darkness appears poised to win. Harriet Klausner