Carolyn Cushman Reviews Let Sleeping Dragons Lie by Garth Nix & Sean Williams, and Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Garth Nix & Sean Williams, Let Sleeping Dragons Lie (Scholastic Press 978-1-338-15849-6, $17.99, 256pp, hc) November 2018. Cover by Ross Dearsley.

Young knights Odo and Eleanor are back in their second middle-grade fantasy adventure, ready to take their talking swords and leave their village for more adventure – but they end up getting a lot more excite­ment than they counted on. A blind old man named Egda and a female warrior named Hundred turn up, pursued by magically summoned bilewolves. It turns out Egda is the former king, who stepped down ten years before, and it looks like forces aren’t willing to let him have a quiet retirement. Then, new government people appear, putting cruel new stewards in place. Something’s wrong with the country, and Egda’s determined to go to the capital to find out if it’s the regent or the heir who’s responsible – and he needs Odo and Eleanor’s help. Plenty of adventure follows, with some interesting and strange encoun­ters. Many of the characters seem more flawed than usual in a fantasy for younger readers, which has its interesting aspects – Hundred is a nice take on the loyal warrior type – but gets a bit depressing at times. At least Odo and Eleanor remain stalwart, if young and inexperienced, and their swords are humorously out of touch and bloodthirsty, which helps keep things fun.

Brandon Sanderson, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds (Tor 978-1-250-29779-2, $27.99, 352, hc) September 2018. Cover by Miranda Meeks.

Stephen Leeds is a genius with a problem with multiple personalities, though he prefers “multiple Aspects,” since he doesn’t swap personalities, as usual; instead, he deliberately manifests new people to contain specialized knowledge (and personality quirks) so he doesn’t overload his mind. Unfortunately, these people are imaginary to everyone but him, and even though he knows they’re are hallucinatory, he has to deal with the Aspects as if they’re real people, which gets complicated, fre­quently humorous, and sometimes inconveniently dangerous. This collection combines three novellas featuring this fascinating character: Legion (2012) and Legion: Skin Deep (2014), and the new Lies of the Beholder. Each presents a sort of mystery case, which is how Leeds can afford a mansion big enough to house all his Aspects. The first novella may be the best, just because of the novelty and lack of internal conflict, an action-packed adventure involving what appear to be photos of the past – before cameras were invented. The second case is a hunt for a missing scientist who was working on ways to store data in human bodies, an interesting idea and a nice counter­point to Leeds storing data in imaginary bodies. The third is more personal for Leeds – he gets a lead on the woman who taught him to create Aspects before disappearing years before, and finding her could be critical, since he’s having trouble with some of his Aspects. Things get fraught, and the resolution has some painful elements, but feels necessary, even inevitable, in the end.

Carolyn F. Cushman, Senior Editor, has worked for Locus since 1985, the longest of any of the current staff, and handles our in-house books database, writes our New and Notable section, and does the monthly Books Received column. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She published a fantasy novel, Witch and Wombat, in 1994.

This review and more like it in the December 2018 issue of Locus.

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