The Paths of the Dead
Orb, May 22 2012, $15.99
Two centuries have passed since Adron's Disaster imploded the Empire with the magical destruction of the capital Dragaera (see The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After) and the loss of the emperor. Many ambitious dukes vie for leadership of the unstable remnants especially the powerful Dragonlord Duke of Kana Skinter. The Gods are divided with some insisting the present cycle requires a Phoenix as emperor and therefore they support the Phoenix heiress Zerika as the Empress; others defend Skinter.
To become the Empress Zerika must retrieve the Orb that is the primary base of wizardry. To obtain the orb she must traverse the dangerous Paths of the Dead. The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain Sethra Lavode supports her and lines her up the offspring of legendary warriors to assist her on her quest. Viscount of Adrilankha Piro, Tazendra the Dzurlord wizard, Kytraan the warrior, and others escort her to the Paths of the Dead while the sorceress Orlaan and her bandits led by Wadre and Mora, and Skinter's loyal supporters try to prevent them from achieving their goal.
This reprint of Book One of the Viscount of Adrilankha, allegedly written by Sir Paarfi and translated by Steven Brust, remains an exciting uniquely written teen quest fantasy that assumes young readers are intelligent and savvy. The story line contains other subplots but the one above is the main theme of The Paths of the Dead while the others are for another day (future book). Although it behooves the audience to read the previous two volumes to learn how the Empire got to where it is, readers will appreciate this witty entry that remains fresh with its unconventional approach to a quest fantasy. Harriet Klausner
Tangle of Need
Berkley, May 29 2012, $25.95
Sienna Lauren released her X-Psy powers against the Pure Psy Forces to protect the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs who took her and her family in when they fled from the PsyNet years ago though she knew this will speed up her death (see Kiss of Snow). Her actions have shaken up both sides in the hostilities over the PsyNet and bring civil war that much closer.
Riaz has returned home to his SnowDancer pack after a stint in Europe. He is depressed that his “mate” is married to someone else, but will not allow his broken heart to prevent him from doing his job for his pack. Adria also has returned to the pack as her mate dumped her because her alpha strength left him feeling emaciated. Adria and Riaz are attracted to one another, but both assume this is a rebound sexual need only. Ironically these two powerful alpha warriors, who willingly risk their lives in mortal combat, fear risking their hearts on love.
This Psy/Changeling romantic fantasy is a great entry that compares the big picture hostilities with the small picture relationships. As the war seems shortly imminent with its accompanying death and maiming, the pairing of two heartbroken changelings and a look at previous leads are doing as mates provide a strong counterpoint in the fabulous Singh mythos. Harriet Klausner
Heat/Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $15.00
Lord Edward Carstairs is a Catalyst whose skill is to extract power from the natural world for Sorcerers to use in spells. He is attracted to Alicia Hartwell who has never remotely felt love, but wonders about her odd behavior that most ignore as her being a spinster. He proposes and though shocked she accepts. Belonging to a cell of operatives that keep magic under control, Edward fears his fiancée is either a witch or cursed by powerful enchantment.
Enlisting his agent peers, he begins his endeavor to free the woman he loves by erotic means. As Alice begins to taste passion and fall in love with her betrothed, Edward risks losing her when the fairies’ curse is finally removed.
This entertaining historical romantic fantasy (see The Surrender of Lady Jane) is a fun tale with an intriguing premise in which the hero deploys several types of erotic scenarios in order for his beloved to feel passion to overcome the curse. The storyline is somewhat limited but fast-paced heat as love proves to be the most powerful spell of all. Harriet Klausner
Ace, May 29 2012, $7.99
In Victoria, Occult Special Investigations squad agent Tess Corday is on medical leave recuperating from on the job injuries (see Infernal Affairs). With time on her hands, Tess follows up to what she learned about her paternal roots to find out more about her origin. On her way to buy cigarettes, Tess notices an anomaly, a stoned vampire.
OSI Detective Selena Ward calls Tess to ask her and Derrick to help her for a few hours investigating the murder of Lord Nightingale the ruler of the necromancers and governor of Ttrinovantum who died at the Simon Fraser University Bennett Library. The pair head to the crime scene. Soon Tess and her “family” (Derrick, Miles, Patrick and Mia) make inquiries into the homicide while she also looks into a drug that leaves vampires dazed and the whereabouts of her father.
The last OSI urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Inhuman Resources) is a great finish to a strong paranormal police procedural. Tess is at her best as she works three cases (one authorized) with each different yet dangerous. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s curtain call and hope for her to return one day soon somewhere else in Canada like Toronto. Harriet Klausner