Lodestone: The Sea of Storms
VBW Publishing, May 200, $14.95
On Kelanni, people are disposable with their solo mission to mine "Lodestone" for use by the planet’s great dictator. The Prophet who rules the orb is the grandmaster of using the lodestone resource that comes to Kelanni in meteor showers. His powerful extremely loyal Keltar Knights insure no one tries to rebel.
Lyall vehemently rejects the Prophet and the concept of slavery. He vows with his best friend Alondo to overthrow the violent despot. When he meets Shann, who wants the Prophet's reign of terror to end , he teaches her his knowledge of lodestone. The prophet learns of the growing unrest and he sends Keris the Keltar to brutally destroy the rebels using them as an example for others to obey. She has doubts about her vocation and her current mission. When a giant bird attacks her, a Chandara saves her life. Boxx the Chandara informs Keris of her leader’s evil plans so she joins Lyall and his insurgents.
Once author Mark Whiteway establish the relativity laws of physics (and astrophysics) in his universe, the first Lodestone tale is a terrific science fiction thriller that in many ways reads like a fantasy. The world of Kelanni is what makes this a strong opening entry as readers will feel they are there along side of Keris as she begins to doubt what she believed all her life was gospel. Fans who enjoy something different yet exciting in their outer space novels will want to read Mr. Whiteway’s entertaining take on despots, rebels and negative matter. Harriet Klausner
Weight Of Stone
Laura Anne Gilman
In the Vin Lands, the powerful Sin Washers sect accuses Vineart wine mage apprentice and former slave Jerzy of heresy dealing with their ruling Commandment involving magic users and rulers. He knows their condemnation is an open invitation to kill him, so he flees. Joining him on the lam are former aristocratic Lady Mahault the warrior, Ao the trader, and Kainam the Prince of Atakus an island kingdom that has disappeared.
Jerzy and his friends continue their tracing of the taint of the vines. They begin to believe an incredulous conspiracy is behind the destruction. Following the clues by sea, Jerzy and company elude the Washers who demand he face trial and punishment and danger from under and on the water and on board their vessel.
The second Vineart War fantasy (see Flesh and Fire) continues the escapades of Jerzy in a fast-paced tale that also provides deeper focus and understanding of the complicated refreshing Gilman science of magic based on winemaking. Jerzy is a terrific protagonist though he and his three traveling companions seem to whine a lot over wine. Filled with tension throughout, readers will toast the quartet as they trek through the dangerous Vin Lands where the washers want to drink to their deaths. Harriet Klausner
While grieving the death of her father Navarr of the flame, Zoe Ardelay receives a surprising visit from the capital Chialto where she and her late father once fled to rusticate in safety. King Vernon sent Darien Serlast to bring back Zoe as the fifth bride of the monarch in order for a numerically balanced court. The Five Families fight through their respective queen to propel their offspring as the heir. Zoe met the ruler before her father fell out of favor and learns from Darien that his family possesses all that hers once did.
However, before entering the castle, Zoe slips away to the nearby river where she is stunned to realize she is the “Coru Prime” of another family Lalindar of the water. Ergo she is no longer the next bride of Vernon. Zoe explores her new power and investigates palace secrets while facing danger from envious enemies, many of whom remain shadowy unknown adversaries who reject an upstart new dynamo. She and Darien also are attracted to one another, but both know many will use their desire as a weapon to destroy both of them. Zoe’s biggest lesson at court is trust no one as everyone seems manipulative with a personal agenda to move up the ladder without regard for others.
Troubled Waters is a great opening political fantasy that is filled with a strong cast, wonderful refreshing laws of magic and court intrigue. From the moment Darien arrives for Zoe, the story line never takes a respite as this is a fast-paced thriller. Sharon Shinn affirms what her fans already knew from the Twelve Houses saga that the author is one of the best fantasists; with her new series loaded with action yet introducing the key characters and significantly the mathematics of magic. Harriet Klausner