Fantasy/SF Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, June 2004 Page One of Two
The Scrolls of the Ancients: Volume III of the Chronicles of Blood and Stone by Robert NewcombDel Rey, June, 2004
Hardcover, 544 pages
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In this third installment of the Chronicles of Blood and Stone, Prince Tristan and his sister Princess Shailiha, The Chosen Ones of Eutracia, must face another terrible threat to their world. A long-lost brother, Wulfgar, has been found and is being exploited by agents of the Heretics of the Guild to ensure their return to this world using the Vagaries (the dark side of the craft of magic) and the destruction of the masters of the Vigors (the light side of the craft). Now, with an army of demonslavers and the evil Krassus at his back, Wulfgar -- who has come into his full powers as a master of the Vagaries -- is ready to invade Eutracia by sea and destroy all that Tristan and Shailiha hold dear.
Robert Newcomb demonstrates the depth of his talent with The Scrolls of the Ancients, a multi-layered and exciting adventure which reveals more of the mysteries which surround the Vagaries and the Vigors, and the mysterious race of Ancients which created the magic that can only be wielded by one of endowed blood. The magical system has a particularly logical appeal. It seems to have a physics underpinning: negative and positive aspects of the craft must be balanced; imbalanced use of the craft can lead to total devastation. There also seems to be a law of conservation of energy at work. And if the magic is science-based, then the fact that the ability to use magic is genetically determined leads to some interesting speculation about the origin of the craft, which one assumes will be revealed as the series proceeds.
This series has two wise wizards: Faegan, the brilliant, crippled exile, and the elderly Wigg, both of whom steal every scene they are in. The passage where Wigg and Faegan must pass through a terrible test of character in order to obtain knowledge to fight Krassus is absolutely riveting. Newcomb never holds back: from the shocking torture scenes in The Fifth Sorceress to the horrors that befall captured humans who are taken to the Citadel to the epic sea battles and the pyrotechnics that accompany powerful magic, the narrative is always gripping. Tristan is maturing into a formidable hero and Tyranny, a beautiful, swashbuckling privateer is a welcome addition to the cast of characters in this outstanding fantasy series.
--Claire E. White
Sign of the Qin (Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh #1) by L.G. BassHyperion, May, 2004
Hardcover, 383 pages
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In ancient China, a cruel Emperor rules his country with an iron hand. The people are starving, the taxes are high and the aristocrats live lives of luxury and indulgence. When the Emperor's first son is born, events are set in motion which will change the world. For little Prince Zong has been born with the sign of the Qin -- the sign of an outlaw -- much to his father's disgust. But to the inhabitants of Heaven, the mark means something else entirely -- that the boy is the reincarnation of the Starlord who must unlock the kung fu secrets of the Twelve Scrolls and save the earth from destruction by Yamu, the Lord of the Dead. When the Emperor decides to assassinate Prince Zong, magical guardians are sent to rescue him so that he can grow up and fulfill his destiny. A calabash-bearing monk, who is covered in prophetic, moving tattoos and his nemesis, the trickster monkey who longs for immortality, must join forces to assist the little Starlord in his quest.
L.G. Bass draws upon Chinese mythology and her own, considerable imagination to create a world of wonder, dragons, demons, fairies, magic and desperate battles. Written in a lyrical and engaging style, the story transports the reader to a complex world where the outcome of the eternal battle between good and evil is far from certain. The trickster Monkey, the tattooed monk and Silver Lotus, the exiled mother of the little Starlord are all vivid, energetic characters who come to life in this original and vastly entertaining book, which is the first in a projected trilogy.
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