The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight
Ace, Oct 2 2012, $26.95
The ruthless Syndicate finds its violent control of its people in peril because of the inability to defeat the Alliance forces led by "Black Jack" Geary nor defend some of their worlds from aliens. As the Syndicate appears on the verge of implosion, The Midway Star System becomes a hotbed of activity because the sector is a nexus of hypergates to and from other Syndicate systems. Distrust of the brutal Syndicate forces runs throughout this sector as the locals expect to feel the terrorizing crush of their “protectors” and worse from the “snakes”.
Syndicate Commander Arthur Drakon led the ground forces in the Midway Star System, but he and what is left of his units are exiled. Instead of hiding, Drakon makes a rebellious bid to take over leadership of Midway starting with ridding the system of the snakes. To succeed, he needs to ally with a natural enemy CEO Gwen Iceni. Together they mount a counter attack on Syndicate units in the sector with a strong focus on those dominated by snakes. After declaring their independence from the Syndicate, each distrusts the other, but failure to do so will allow the snakes to regroup abetted by traitors.
This brilliant sidebar new series occurs during a period between the Beyond the Frontier last two entries: Dreadnaught and Invincible. Though there is plenty of military outer space combat, the storyline centers on the strange bedfellows’ codependent but tremulous alliance that Drakon and Iceni forge to bring their nebulous vision of a better democratic future for Midway. Jack Campbell runs a strong saga shown from the viewpoints of the Syndicate at a time when the vicious totalitarian military regime teeters on the brink of total collapse. Harriet Klausner
HarperCollins, Sep 25 2012, $17.99
In London, two thugs beat up a young woman when Dodger the thieving tosher jumping out of a drain intervenes. She begs him to help her escape as her assaulters want to take her back to the monster she has run away from whose battering of her led to a miscarriage. As he lives up to his name with his snake like speed, Charlie Dickens the author and Henry Mayhew the social reformer arrive at the scene causing the brutes to flee. Charlie and Henry call Dodger Galahad.
Calling the mystery girl he rescued Simplicity, Dodger tries to help this woman he is attracted to; while also trying to prove he is worthy of her. Dodger soon meets Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria and Sweeney Todd in his quest to live up to the reputation of Sir Galahad.
Dodger is an enjoyable historical fiction tale that brings to life Victorian England. The key to this entertaining thriller is Terry Pratchett capturing the vernacular of the era and the tone of several real historical personas though mostly through their interplay with the title character. Although the mystery of Simplicity is more a device to propel the plot forward and there is not a disc in sight, fans will feel they are touring London with Dodger as their guide. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Oct 2 2012, $24.99
Several years ago, humans and the forest dwelling fey fought The Great War to end all wars. Now, everyone is trying to return to normal. A victim of a fey curse that forces her to wear an iron mask to prevent the scar on her face from causing others to go into a rage, Jane Eliot answers an ad for a governess in a “delicate situation."
The child's father Edward Rochart the enigmatic mask-maker hires Jane to work with his son Dorie, whose late mother was "taken over" by a fey while she carried the lad. Dorie possesses telekinetic powers that Jane hopes she can teach him to control. However, to her horror and fear, Jane concludes the hostility with the fey apparently is not over.
This is a super Victorian gothic fantasy that provides a paranormal take on Jane Eyre. Fast-paced with a growing sense of foreboding built on what has already happened to the lead triangle, fans will relish the survivors struggling, in a war ravaged alternate Victorian world, to cope with their personal cursed PTSD. Harriet Klausner