Wolf Tales 11
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 28 2010, $14.00
The kidnappers planned the assault perfectly with a precision rarely seen outside of the military or the Chanku. They abduct two Chanku females, Lisa and eight-months pregnant Tala. The entire Chanku clan is outraged and feels helpless.
The kidnappers notify the pack leadership as to their ransom demands. They want the Chanku special ops firm Pack Dynamics to assassinate the president of the United States. Failure to do so means getting the women back in pieces. Not one to allow extortion or an abduction to be ignored, Anton plans to save the two females without endangering the president. To do so will change him, which he conceals from his Chanku; while the support he needs from his clan is for each pack member to orgasm at the identical super moment.
Fans of the long running Chanku exciting erotic thrillers will appreciate the latest saga as the spins keep coming; cubs will need the scorecard provided by Kate Douglas to keep track, but should consider earlier entries in this excellent series. Fast-paced as always throughout yet character driven (another trademark), Anton believes he knows the second hand consequences of a super pack-wide orgasm but conceals from his beloved people the cost. Instead he chooses to save the women and the unborn as that is paramount preferably without the Chanku losing their species’ values. Harriet Klausner
Signet, Jan 4 2011, $6.99
Lily Parker attends St. Sophia's School for Girls in Chicago after her parents recently dumped her there while they conduct research in Europe. At the school, Lily discovered her paranormal ability to use the Firespell. Although she has improved at controlling this power, she knows she has a long way to go before she is comfortable using it if ever. Her biggest fear is becoming a Reaper who abuses their magical gifts. Lily’s roommate and BFF Scout, who fights the otherworldly beasts, helps her stay anchored while her relationship with Jason is becoming more intimate.
As Lily trains to be an Adept, she fears the immortal words of Lord Acton ("Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”) and Darth Vader (“Give yourself to the Dark Side”), so she wants to go slow. However, when she observes strange creatures wandering around St. Sophia's, Lily realizes slow is no longer an option for her. With Scout at her side, she vows to learn who they are and what they want. Although she admits to herself she has made the same pledge re the enigmatic behavior of her parents and adversary Sebastian.
The second Dark Elite (see Firespell) young adult fantasy continues Lily’s training in the paranormal as she learns more secrets, especially about her parents and her abilities, but is also is caught up in some sort of otherworldly “turf” war. Fast-paced and mindful of the Casts’ House of Night saga and Claudia Gray’s Evernight series, readers will enjoy Lily’s dilemma. She would prefer to ignore the impossible and hang with the hot hunks rather than joining Scout and friends in mortal combat, but feels Hexbound to learn her craft expeditiously to keep her school, Chicago and the world safe from the others. Harriet Klausner
The Agent Gambit
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen, Jan 4 2011 , $12.00
“Agent of Change.” The Department of Interior recruited First Scout Val Con yos’Phelium of Clan Korval as an Agent of Change. He became a covert assassin with no feelings. Completing his current mission with a bang, Val Con does the unthinkable for a brainwashed soulless agent. He rescues former Terran mercenary Miri Robertson from five Juntavas interstellar crime syndicate assassins; ignoring his implanted Loop that warns him to dump her. She mashes his head in remittance, but Val Con saves her life again. They are attracted to one another, but distrust each other even as the Juntavas mob wants both dead. As she keeps dumping him, he keeps finding her.
“Carpe Diem.” The Juntavas mob calls off the hits of lifemates Val Con and Miri. However, they are given a crippled ship in the middle of the Yxtrang who want them dead. The pair fixes the vessel enough for one jump to nearby Vandar; a planet that is so primitive the sentient race thought they were alone in the universe. Val Con and Miri know they are stranded so they make the best of it. Val Con’s family and close friends search for him. On Liad, his sister Nova interprets a message from Val Con that informs the Korval Clan their heir lives and that the Department of Interior searches for him too. Their involvement leaves Nova suspecting the worse.
This is a reprint of two of the early Liaden thrillers. Both tales are exciting romantic science fiction loaded with hi and low tech action, a strong lead couple, and a belief in the Lee-Miller outer space, as well as a sense of family. Fans will enjoy this pairing, but though unnecessary to enjoy this duet, newcomers will better understand Clan Korval and planet Liad by reading Local Custom first. Harriet Klausner
Pocket, Dec 28 2010, $7.99
Although witch Persephone “Seph” Alcmedi and her boyfriend werewolf rock musician Johnny Newman defeated the Fairy (see Fatal Circle) insuring the monsters did not devour Cleveland (paraphrasing Maynard G. Krebs again), the cost remains high. Seph gets veterinarian Dr. Geoffrey Lincoln to help Johnny who had his chest ripped apart in his wolf form that fails to heal as normally occurs when he is hurt. Dr. Lincoln explains the wound came from magic; he uses salt to cleanse the wound.
Johnny announced to his pack that he is the werewolf Domn Lup. If he was not, the phoenix’s claw would have killed him. His magic resides in his tattoos, but the one on his chest was ripped in the attack. His number two informs Johnny the world wide werewolf ruler the Rege is coming from Romania to determine if he who he claims. With his magic muted from the assault, he has to find a way to access his inner talent or face a painful execution. Seph plans to assist him, but has a horde of paranormals camping out on her farm; requiring basic human needs even if they are not human. Seph also is throwing a tenth birthday party for her foster child Beverly.
The fourth Circle urban fantasy (see Vicious Circle and Hallowed Circle) is an exciting entry that is low-keyed as the major foe from the previous entries has been vanquished, but now the lead couple deals with the aftermath. Johnny knows that no one lives wasting a nanosecond of the Rege’s time; if he proves a false prophet because he cannot generate the magic from a key tattoo, the Zvonul will rip him apart. Sub-genre readers will appreciate the Arcane thriller. Harriet Klausner
A Chronicle of Endylmyr: The Witches of Endylmyr
Outskirts Press, September 28 2010, $27.95
The Eastern Khan plans to possess all known magical relics as the first step in world domination. He already owns some of these ancient arcane artifacts. The Khan knows that others are owned by Endylmyr. Obsessed with obtaining them, he sends his feared legions to Endylmyr and the other small communities to the north and west of his empire. His orders are to kill anything that moves.
Those under attack form an alliance while also deploying the gizmos that have been dormant for centuries. Former mercenary Gylfalin is coaxed out of retirement to lead the counter forces alongside his cousin Pendaran the Archer with his companion Peregrine the magical falcon. Their side faces overwhelming odds against a brutal experienced army. Their hope lies with magical crystals that allow stealth movements in time and place, but no one knows how to deploy these artifacts. As time runs out and the slaughter begins, Angmere the wizard historian finds a clue in an ancient tome that implies three witches are the key to deployment. The scholar’s daughter Gwynyr unites with Hellwydd and Hilst as the Endylmyr witches in a last ditch attempt to save their people.
A Chronicle of Endylmyr is an entertaining epic fantasy that will remind readers in some ways of Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwars. The story line is fast-paced as the western alliance struggles to survive against a more powerful enemy; their only hope is three women who must figure out how to safely use the crystals with no time to spare. Charles Hall provides an exciting thriller as from the north the witches try to save the city of Endylmyr from the siege of Khan and his vast lethal horde.