Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial. His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered. If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.
Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him. However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial. Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact.
With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil. Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent. Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone. Harriet Klausner
The River Witch
Bell Bridge, $14.95
Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne’s charmed life ended with the crash. Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom’s house, she gave birth to a stillborn.
Worried about her daughter’s inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn’s mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny's Island; Georgia just off St. Simon’s. Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family. Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead. As Roslyn’s past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.
The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief. The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey. However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet. Harriet Klausner
Dunne, Jun 19 2012, $25.99
Two and a half centuries have passed since the global nuclear war eradicated much of the population. The planet has not recovered from the radiation battering. However, one thing remains the same from the pre-war; a small group of wealthy "registered" as the five generations of throwback purebred humanity World Court led currently by Nathan Serca rules over the short lived Stryker force psions who possess psi skills.
To escape the dying planet that he cedes to the psions, the gene trash and his son by leaving for the Mars Colony of the Pure, Nathan hides his psi powers. His traitorous son Lucas has joined a rebel syndicate of former Strykers led by Threnody Corwin. She and her team hope to save the world for the humans while the World Court wants them dead so they can continue to exploit psi and human. However, Threnody is unaware that the Pure Lucas and his warhounds are of her kind.
The second Strykers Syndicate futuristic post-apocalyptic thriller (see Mind Storm) is an exciting gory military science fiction thriller that continues the blood and guts flow as the countdown to earth’s demise is running out. Fast-paced and loaded with feral action, the storyline never digs deep into what any of the prime three surviving groups think re a dying planet except tor the World Court leaving behind what they wrought as they reject accountability. Still fans who enjoy blood and guts will want to read Terminal Pont as mankind’s reign is through. Harriet Klausner