As Lie the Dead
Dell, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
After waking up in someone else’s body on a slab in the morgue, Hunter Evy Stone’s first case was to solve who killed her and her still dead Triad partners (see Three Days to Dead). Evy still struggles with the memories and previous lifestyle of her new body; that of Chalice Frost while physically and emotionally healing from injuries and her own body's death.
The Assembly of Clan Elders wants all Triad members dead but especially Evy’s friend Rufus St, James for his leading their genocide attacks on the Owlkins people. Evy blames herself for the annihilation while she and her former handler Wyatt Truman try to prevent further carnage as they believe Brass is behind the assaults. Feeling some regret as to what happened to the shapeshifters due to what she believes were attacks on her, Evy vows to keep their survivors safe and take down Brass. As an assassin continues to target her and anyone in her sphere or even strangers by happenchance near her, she will soon realize how much she underestimated the problem.
The second Stone urban fantasy is a great thriller as the heroine further learns betrayal by those she felt in her previous life she could trust is the norm. Evy feels remorse that so many have died especially the shapeshifters all because someone wants her dead. This is her tale of learning how naive she once was as she peels away layers of a conspiracy that leaves her paralyzed with the shock of humanity’s brutality. Kelley Meding is a great storyteller. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Aug 17 2010, $27.99
Honce has been at war for years as two rivals battle for the throne with each indifferent to the plight of peasants trapped in the deadly combat. Self-anointed King Yeslnik the Fool flourishes on blood and guts from the unmerciful war while his chief opponent Laird Ethelbert is perhaps slightly less inclined towards violence causing collateral damage.
Yeslnik’s other major opposition comes from Dame Gwydre of Vanguard, who cares about the people, but is somewhat helpless as she is trapped inside the Church of St. Mere Abelle with the mystic monks; though due to magic jewels and the swordsmen, they are safe. She considers an alliance with Ethelbert, whom she deems is the lesser of two evils, but his assassins murdered Jameston Sequin and attempted to kill Bransen Garibond the Highwayman.
Bransen opts out as he is bone wary of war. He intends to takes his pregnant wife and leaves but he meets Gwydre who tries to help the beleaguered people. Instead of vanishing, he escorts her to meet the king’s general Bannagran, the Bear of Honce to see if between them they can bring peace.
The final tale in the epic First King saga (see The Highwayman, The Ancient and The Dame) is a rousing winner as R.A. Salvatore continues to effortlessly blend magic and medieval type warfare inside an action-packed military-political fantasy. The key cast is powerfully drawn as betrayal and expedient shifting alliances between enemies is the norm. This series is one of the best over the past few years because of the deep look at political fantasy in a kingdom at constant civil war.
Seduced by the Wolf
Sourcebook, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
In Oregon, rancher Leidolf Wildhaven is worried about the purebred humans wanting to look too closely at the wilderness wolf populace. Not that the timing would be good ever for him and the werewolf pack he leads but this particular moment is disastrous as he just came from Colorado to take over as Alpha leader of a dispirited pack; werewolves who are without spirit and zest for life become easy targets.
Adding to his headaches is the leggy biologist Dr. Cassie Roux who believes wolves in the wild need protection from human predators. She has problems caused by her angry peer, wolf biologist Alex Wellington and her attraction to this rancher who says a wolf is man’s best friend. She can sniff the lupus garou scent he emits. Courageous she tries to protect a she-wolf and newborn litter from rogues (wolves, hunters and enemy biologists) while also trying to keep her heart safe from a hunk of a werewolf.
No one makes werewolves seem real better than romantic urban fantasist Terry Spear continually does with her “Wolf” saga (see Legend of the White Wolf, To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf). Her fifth were-wolfish thriller is a strong tale of two dedicated people wanting to d the best for the wolfish populace in the northwest. Sub-genre fans will want to roam Oregon with this lead couple as outside a werewolf, a book by Terry Spear’s is woman’s best friend; inside the werewolf it is to dark to read (Groucho is turning over in his grave).