A Hard Day's Knight
Simon R. Green
In the Nightside, private investigator John Taylor obtains the legendary Excalibur though he is unsure why Arthur’s sword has been sent to him by the Post. He does not want the blade partly because he knows his heart is not worthy of such a weapon. On the other hand, he knows in Nightside he is much more worthy than probably everyone else. Still he believes the blade needs safe keeping. He feels strongly, though he would prefer not to, venture into London Proper to deliver Excalibur to the London Knights, the Last Defenders of Camelot.
However, John’s enemies wait in ambush to kill him, steal the legend, or preferably both. Although unsure how his adversaries know, John and his lover Shotgun Suzie, the bounty hunter Valkyrie, who when it comes to dead or alive always brings them in dead. They begin the deadly trek. They remain ignorant to the significance of what they do as his destiny is to prevent a potentially end of the world war and that a traitor amidst the London Knights has sold his soul to gain power by giving the sword to malevolent beasts.
This is a super refreshing Nightside entry starting with the double edged title as the quest takes place during A Hard Day’s Night while the other reference is obvious. Side allusions are a consistent fun part of a Simon R. Green urban fantasy as the author has done repeatedly with this saga and the Secret History series. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the foes have the numbers and the weapons, but John knows he has his beloved “Oh Christ, It’s Her, Run” watching his back in London’s Nightside and Proper. Harriet Klausner
Star Wars: Red Harvest
Del Rey, $27.00
On the cold desolate planet Odacer-Faustin, Sith Master Lord Darth Scabrous sets up a training program to teach the young the techniques in using the dark side of the Force. Rumors abound that the Sith Master searches for the right pupils who will fill his formula for immortality. From time to time a student vanishes. One of the trainees who disappears Wim Nickter finds himself surrounded by medical equipment. He will “donate” his blood to Scabrous. As he lays dying
The beginning of a plague begins
Scabrous seeks a Murkamis Orchid, which he receives when “talented botanist” Hestizo Trace “delivers “the plant to the Sith Lord. The sentient flower has bonded with Hestizo and needs her as does Scabrous. He abducts the human and takes her to his planet for she and her dark orchid are the final keys to his immortality formula. Her brother Jedi Knight Rojo traces her through the Force as he wants to save his sister, but finds himself facing an army of zombies and worse.
If someone told me when I saw the first Star Wars movie back in ancient times I would read a Star Wars novel with zombies and a Sith Lord acting like a vampire, I would have said no way. Yet, Joe Schreiber entertainingly brings zombie fever to the Force during the Old Republic era. Zo is a heroic person who fights to the end to prevent the zombie pathogen from turning pandemic. However this is Lord Darth Scabrous’ story as his insidious malevolence owns the exciting tale. Mr. Schreiber provides a face to evil as the Force turns to its darkest horror niches. Harriet Klausner
Wicked City: the Scarlet Clan
Seven Seas (Tor), $10.99
The Black Guard diligently watch the barrier between the mortal world and the demonic realm for breeches from the dark other side. In Roppongi, a Black Guard unit intervenes to end a summoning ritual at Torizaky Church. That night agent demon Makie informs her human lover agent Taki at his home in Hamadayama that she had a vision of the assault due to the hybrid child she carries. She also says their unborn told her that the summoning worked.
Apparently the summoning is to bring back the Shu demonic mob locked away in 978. This deadly clan prefers war between the two species and within each species. Over one millennium, they have waited for the mixed race baby to be born so that they can kill it and prevent the peace that many in both races see the infant represents. Starting with a psy phone call to possess and kill Taki, the Shus begin their direct attack on the pregnant demoness as they send snake handlers and fire demons to assassinate the female they consider traitor. Taki and the Black Guard struggle to protect his unborn and defeat an invincible demon mob that never loses.
The third Wicked City urban fantasy (see Black Guard and The Other Side) is a fabulous thriller that reads like a comic book novella with no images except those in the reader’s mind. Fast-paced from the onset, the focus of everyone is on the unborn hybrid. Although the key characters are severely underdeveloped, fans will enjoy the latest entry that stands alone, but obtain a better understanding of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s fantasy-horror Japan by reading the previous thrillers. Harriet Klausner