Jack of Ravens
PYR, Mar 27 2012, $17.95
London based archeologist Jack “Church” Churchill walks out of the fog with one objective: to get back to his beloved Ruth. He is confused as he has no idea where he is, why he carries an ancient sword, and where all this blood came from as if he murdered someone with his weapon. His instincts tell him to keep moving, but he ignores this inner warning to focus on his situation when a giant at least twenty-five feet grabs Church. Six men speaking Gaulish Celtic attack the giant. Church kills him with his sword. Even more bewildering is the language his rescuers speak is only used in a university. They take the “giantkiller” to Etain the healer even as he notices no roads or planes.
Church realizes somehow he is in Celtic Britain. He wants to go home. Soon Church reaches the Otherworld home of the gods where he plans to relax over the centuries until he is back with Ruth. However, Church is unaware why he was exiled back in time; a malevolence needs him to never to return in order to complete the End-Times plan.
The first Kingdom of the Serpent is an action-packed epic thriller that races through time at rapid speed with chapters dedicated to different eras like the Romans, Elizabethan, and the Nazis air Blitz (and even Civil Rights movement twentieth century America). Spinning his own Brother and Sister of Dragons epic sword and sorcery saga, Mark Chadbourn provides a great thriller as evil does not want the return of Church to his biological era, but will soon learn they don’t know Jack. Harriet Klausner
A Clash of Kings
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, Mar 6 2012, $8.99
The comet streaks across the sky of the fractured Seven Kingdoms. A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. The six prime rivals for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms interpret the bloody fiery trail to fit their needs.
Once the heir apparent, Stannis believes the comet means the time to attack Westros with sorcery and an army is now. In King's Landing, teenage King Joffery proves a poor abusive monatch leaving his uncle Tyrion the King’s Hand to protect their subjects. In the north Tyrion’s father Tywin battles against Stark and her militia while another son Jaime is a prisoner of war. From the South, Renly needs to eliminate his brother Stannis before he begins his assault on King's Landing. Finally in the distant east, resolute Daenerys leads her Khalhaser dragon horde towards Westros. The various hostilities by rulers against each other turn the Seven Kingdoms into a chaotic lawless land
The second A Game of Thrones fantasy (see A Song of Ice and Fire) is a superb entry in which political and military alliances mean little as ambition to sit on the Iron Throne remains everything for most of the competitors. The innocent are collateral damage as their plight from marauding soldiers and vicious outlaws are meaningless to most of the pretenders. Loaded with action while rotating effortlessly perspectives, the aptly titled A Clash of Kings is a powerful tale.
Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $9.99
Identical twins Sunny and Rayne McDonald have totally opposite desires as one is all sun and the other is all rain. Rayne desperately wants to become a vampire; while Sunny wants to live a normal life. Due to Magnus the vampire biting Sunny instead of Rayne, the “wrong’ twin is changed. Drinking from the Holy Grail returns Sunny to normal. Sunny and Magnus are on the run because they disobeyed a direct order from Pyrus, who plots to control the Vampire Consortium and then the world.
Pyrus hires Slayer Inc. to bring him the treasonous duet. Slayer Inc. assigns Rayne and her boyfriend Jareth to capture Sunny and Magnus to deliver them to the Vampire Consortium. Rayne is distraught as she would do just anything for her sister, but failure to complete the mission means the deaths of all the Blood Coven vampires as well as herself and her boyfriend. Complicating matters for Rayne is when she learns another slayer with a grudge is on the hunt too. Her life turns even more hellish when a god orders her to choose between Sunny and Jareth.
The latest A Blood Coven Vampire urban fantasy (see Blood Ties) continues the bloody darker spin that started when the twins attended Night School in Switzerland. Rayne tells the tale as she faces increasingly impossible dilemmas that shake her inner soul. Her growing maturity (she has come a long way since Boys That Bite and Stake That) shines through the darkness as she struggles with choosing the lesser of two evils. This is a character driven, fast-paced exciting teen urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Mar 13 2012, $15.99
Her Uncle told Christine when she was little that her Father was gone. Because of her violent tendencies she began seeing Dr. Almand. He persuaded her into believing her Father was abusive. At seventeen, Christine sees a young man hitting his brakes abruptly seemingly upon noticing her. Quentin of Lydia sends her note to meet him at Telzer Park. She knows who the author is and decides to confront him. Quentin says he searched for her for nine years as the lost Princess and heir to the throne of Chrysanthe. He explains she was kidnapped.
Quentin escorts Christine home. However, she loathes her sire King Edisthen, as she has the thoughts planted in her brain by Almand of her father sexually abusing and abandoning her. Christine also has an enemy lurking nearby; as Evered, who abducted her years ago, plots to take the throne that he believes is rightfully his. He refuses to accept the Law that deposed his father from the throne.
This is a complicated fantasy that philosophically questions what reality is. The fascinating storyline leisurely (and too poetical with so much darkness) peels away the false from the truth. Though none of the cast comes across fully developed as even the protagonist is limited to her flawed “memories”, fans who appreciate a metaphysical psychological thriller will ponder whether the truth is Christine’s implanted recollection since she believes them as being her own. Harriet Klausner