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As 18-year-old orphaned actor Will Hawthorne explains early on in this clever page-turner, "I don't want you thinking you're going to get a tale about some blue-eyed tyke with a heart of gold in a world where good triumphs over evil. You're not, I'm not, and in my experience it never does." Charged as a rebel after escaping the authorities in a world not unlike Elizabethan England, obnoxious, charming Will joins a small mercenary group and proves himself the least honorable of them all. When the group comes under attack from crimson-armored raiders, Will reluctantly fails to betray the companions he is even more reluctantly growing to like. In small, swift "scenes," Hartley (On the Fifth Day) deftly proves that people you shouldn't trust at your back can be the best ones to have at your side. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.