David Drake, The Storm (Baen 978-1-4814-8369-8, $25.00, xii+274pp, hc) January 2019. Cover by Todd Lockwood.
Lord Pal of Beune returns for more far-future Arthurian adventures in this sequel to The Spark. Pal’s still not entirely comfortable among the lords and ladies in Dun Add, where Jon the Leader rules the Commonwealth of Mankind. Pal’s happy to be a Champion, and believes in Jon’s vision of many lands united by a central rule of law, but he’d rather be out on the road righting wrongs than sitting at the High Table. He’s also a Maker, one of those with the talent to understand and fix strange artifacts, something many regard with some fear, and his Maker friend Guntram (this version’s Merlin) has gone missing. On top of all that, his lady friend May wants Pal to sponsor a cousin, Lord Osbourn, as a champion, and Pal wants the spoiled young noble to go through the process with other aspirants. When he gets a chance to escape he’s glad to go, and manages to get a lead on Guntram that turns into a very strange adventure indeed. This strange, fractured world is fascinating, with its artifacts and hints of a lost high-tech civilization; the Arthurian elements are fun to pick out, if potentially fraught as always, and the feeling of the old chivalrous romances comes through, particularly in Pal, a straightforward fellow, always willing to help, eager to learn, and determined to do the right thing, if he can figure out what that is.
Marshall Ryan Maresca, A Parliament of Bodies (DAW 978-0-7564-1266-1, $7.99, 389pp, pb) March 2019. Cover by Paul Young.
The latest novel in the world of Maradaine is technically the third in the Maradaine Constabulary series, featuring Constabulary inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, but it’s also a sequel to The Way of the Shield, the first book in the Maradaine Elite series featuring Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, and has a crossover character from a third series. All these series are part of one ongoing narrative about the troubled city of Maradaine, and sometimes splitting everything up this way seems excessive, given how many characters end up crossing over. Fortunately, Maresca creates some quite memorable characters, and Minox, a brilliant inspector and reluctant mage, has become a favorite. This time out, he and his partner Satrine are facing a diabolical murderer dubbed the “Gearbox Killer” for his deadly devices. When one of those infernal inventions turns up at Parliament with over a dozen victims, Dayne Heldrin turns out to have a past history with the killer, raising new questions. Complications come from an investigation into Minox’s magic – mages aren’t allowed in the constabulary, but Minox didn’t know he had the ability – and indications that traitors and conspiracy are working against him and the investigation. The wonderfully macabre villain and some dark developments keep things tense, nicely offset by some daring heroism and the protagonists’ determination, while the ever-growing evidence of corruption promises more battles to come.
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 May 2019 issue of Locus.
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