Framed as a royal scribe's apologia, Smith's newest (after Blood Spirits) is a magical tale of political intrigue and romantic entanglements. When her sister, the Colendi Queen Hatahra, finally produces an heir, Princess Lasva's royal aspirations are dashed, so she despairingly departs for the barbarous land of Marloven Hesea, where she weds Prince Ivandred. Fearing for her sister's safety in a primitive land renowned for its military and magical might, Queen Hatahra charges the royal scribe Emras to keep watch over the Princess, and ascertain whether she is being influenced by the dark magic of Norsunder, a kingdom once believed to reside only in myth, but now distressingly real. Emras must fulfill the wishes of the Queen in accordance with the three rules of the scribe: "Do not interfere," "Keep The Peace," and "Tell the truth as we see it." In Emras's struggle to parse good from evil magic, something went terribly wrong, and now she is being forced to defend herself. A dawdling beginning is rescued by the bold and engaging female characters, and Smith's world is wonderfully imagined. While the legal defense frame occasionally makes for dry reading (and frequent transgressions of the ubiquitous axiom "Show; don't tell"), Smith's epic is nevertheless vividly realized and entertaining. (Apr. 3)
"A frequently thrilling tale, full of adventure, romance, and magic, a charming mix of everyday details and epic overtones."
"Sherwood Smith should rank high on any list of military writers.... The cavalry battles, hand-to-hand, strategy sessions, the aftermaths of battles, these scenes in Banner of the Damned roll across the page with effortless mastery... a first rate author boldly at play."
"Tremendously enjoyable.... The characters are interesting, believable, and well-drawn, the politics — national and personal — compelling, and there’s plenty of action and excitement to go around."
From the Publisher
"A damned good book.... A compelling protagonist with a vivid voice, a master's control of pacing and tension." —Tor.com
"Smith should rank high on any list of military writers.... The cavalry battles, hand-to-hand strategy sessions, the aftermaths of battles, these scenes in Banner of the Damned roll across the page with effortless mastery.... A first-rate author boldly at play." —SF Signal
"A magical tale of political intrigue and romantic entanglements...vividly realized and entertaining." —Publishers Weekly
"A frequently thrilling tale, full of adventure, romance, and magic, a charming mix of everyday details and epic overtones." —Locus
VOYA - Courtney Huse Wika
Banner Of The Damned is narrated by Emras of Colend, who is chosen as Princess Lasva's scribe after serving penance as a kitchen maid. The imposed kitchen exile only further commits her to the life and virtues of a scribe, as one who does not interfere, keeps the peace, and records only the truth. When Princess Lasva finds herself usurped of the throne after her older sister conceives a child as a result of a successful birth spell, she knows she must seek a new home. While many suitors court her, it is Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea who secures her heart with his bravery. But Prince Ivandred's land and people are very different from the Colendi, and there is evidence that they are connected to the dark realm of Norsunder. Worried, the queen tasks Emras with both protecting Lasva and discovering whether the Norsunder connections exist. Emras, out of her element, must unearth the truth despite grave danger. The novel begins with Emras's "defense testimony" as she is being judged for her actions as Princess Lasva's scribe. Emras struggles at times to remain true to the scribe rules, and the novel addresses the conflict between duty and loyalty, edicts and personal authority. These themes and the story's nonstop action and adventure are foreshadowed in the opening pages. Though an intimidating tome of 704 pages, Emras's earnest narrative and the fantasy world's rich and intricate mythology will keep fantasy fans reading to the very last word. Reviewer: Courtney Huse Wika