Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reviews from Harriet

Path of the Sun
Violette Malan
DAW, $15.00
ISBN 9780756406387

The Mercenary Brotherhood in Lesonika inform Brothers Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane that they no longer stand accused of murdering the heir to the throne of Tegrian, as the Prince has been found alive though his sister sits on the throne. The Mercenary Brotherhood assigns the exonerated pair to escort the Arderon Princess Cleona to her wedding to the Tarkin of Menoin; which means another ocean voyage for Dhulyn and Parno as the destination is an island. However, their Guild also directs the duet to investigate the disappearance of two members who traveled last year to Menoin, but have not been heard from since.

They arrive with their charge in Menoin where Dhulyn and Parno hear rumors of ritual mutilations. When the Princess is found murdered, an apparent victim of the ritual killers, the latest victim’s two former escorts follow clues that lead them into the unknown deadly Path of the Sun labyrinth.

The fourth adventures of Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane (see The Storm Watch, The Sleeping God and The Soldier King) is a super fantasy that fans of the sword and sorcery saga will relish. The accusation arch from the previous tales is nicely ended with a whimper rather than a bang while Dhulyn sums up their latest inquiry with her musing that she prefers a horse after several recent water logged escapades. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy traveling with the lead pair as they enter a labyrinth in which few get out alive. Harriet Klausner

Zoe Archer
Zebra, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106794

In 1874 former British Army Captain Gabriel Huntley has just come home to England with no plans. However, when he sees a lone person under assault by a group, Gabe rushes in to help. He is too late to save the life of Anthony Morris. Before dying Anthony pleads with his Good Samaritan to deliver a message to Franklin Burgess in Urga, Outer Mongolia. Huntley agrees giving a death bed vow to Morris.

Huntley travels to Asia to find Burgess. He does, but the man has a broken leg and cannot follow up on Morris’ missive. Burgess explains to his visitor that he is a member of the Blade of the Rose that prevents magical objects or “sources” from the possession of the “Heirs” who want world domination. Desperate he assigns his daughter Thalia and Huntley to locate and bring in the Mongolian Source at the same time a deadly Heir seeks to obtain it too.

The first Blades of the Rose Victorian Era romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller as the lead couple struggles with their attraction and their mission. Fast-paced and filled with action and adventure in an exotic late nineteenth century locale, Zoe Archer opens her new series with a strong tale. Harriet Klausner

The Power of Illusion
Christopher Anvil
Baen, $12.00
ISBN: 9781439134122

Baen continues paying homage to the late great Christopher Anvil, known for his witty jocular science fiction tales. The eighth and apparently last Anvil book is divided into three sections. Part I Research East includes three James Cardan tales; two shorts and one novella, The Day the Machines Stopped. Part II Solver of Problems stars Richard Verner in all seven of his short stories. Finally Part III Problems, Snafus and Fubars includes eleven miscellaneous tales with the author’s last work The Anomaly first published in this collection.

The Cardan and Verner entries are worth the price of admission as these are two delightful protagonists. Readers will especially enjoy Verner the problem solver. The third section includes well written contributions, but lacks the focus of the other two parts; making this section feeling like a bonus. One common theme that makes this twenty-one story anthology worth reading is the humor even when humanity is on the brink of extinction as Mr. Anvil made the case that The Power of Illusion is keep the reader smiling with sardonic science fiction. Harriet Klausner

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