Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

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A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton

Ballantine, April, 2002
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN: 0345435273
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A Caress of Twilight
by Laurell K. Hamilton The bestselling author of the Anita Blake vampire hunter series has another hit on her hands with her second series, which centers around a Faerie princess named Meredith Gentry. Meredith lives in the human world of L.A.; she is half-human herself. The heir to the Unseelie throne, Merry must conceive an heir herself before she can assure her place. Her rival for the throne is determined to murder her before she gets the chance. To support herself, she, along with her various Faerie bodyguards/lovers (one of whom will eventually be her king) act as private detectives and bodyguards to wealthy Angelinos. Merry is hired to act as bodyguard to a famous and beautiful actress, who also happens to be an exile from the Seelie Court. But Merry's job is complicated by the fact that someone in Faerie has released the Nameless; a powerful horror which lives only to torture and destroy everything its path. Now Merry must find a way to defeat the Nameless, while juggling the Machiavellian politics of both Faerie courts, and her stable of squabbling lovers.

Laurell Hamilton's latest series (of which this is the second book) is a unique blend of magic, mayhem, sex and politics. Merry is a liberated woman, determined to take control of her own destiny -- no easy trick, considering how many people are attempting to either control her or kill her. The love scenes are plentiful and erotic, and the violence level is high. The character exploration, pacing, and urban fantasy background all sizzle with energy, style and depth. Although not for the cozy lover or faint of heart, this series is a winner with its gritty edge, compelling characters and fresh outlook.

Peril's Gate (Wars of Light and Shadow, Book 6) by Janny Wurts

Eos, January, 2002
Hardcover, 736 pages
ISBN: 0061052205
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Peril's Gate (Wars of Light and Shadow, Book 6)
by Janny Wurts Thirty years ago, two half-brothers, the dark Arithon s'Ffalenn and the blond Lysaer s'Ilessid, united to destroy the Mistwraith. But the Mistwraith cursed them so that they would hate and destroy each other. Still battling, each brother believes that he is in the right. In this third entry in the Alliance of the Light series, the Master of Shadow, Arithon, has escaped imprisonment and death by the skin of his teeth. Wounded and tired, he is pursued over rough terrain in the heart of winter. The magic of the world has been thrown terribly out of balance, and the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven are stretched to their very limits holding the world together. Arithon has a terrible journey ahead of him. Pursued by his half-brother and the Alliance of Light, as well as numerous other enemies, Arithon will have to make some terrible choices in order to survive.

The Wars of Light and Shadow series is a departure from the standard fantasy fare, in which the good guys and bad guys are usually fairly obvious. Taking the stance that every war has two sides and two stories, Wurts shows both sides of this conflict -- and lets the reader draw his own conclusion about who is right, who is wrong -- and who is a total hypocrite. The plot is labyrinthine and the characters complex; this is hard-hitting, immensely enjoyable fantasy for the literate reader who enjoys having his preconceived notions challenged.

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