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This uncomplicated series debut introduces Konowa Swift Dragon, professional soldier turned full-time cynic. Exiled for killing the brutal viceroy of Elfkyna, an appointee of the Calahrian Empire who secretly served the evil witch known as the Shadow Monarch, Konowa has spent a year wandering around feeling sorry for himself. When the Shadow Monarch threatens the empire, Konowa reluctantly answers the call back to service, furious to find his former elite regiment filled with ordinary men and commanded by the incompetent heir to the throne. With anti-empire elfkynan witch Visyna Tekoy and cigar-chomping journalist Rallie Synjyn as his unlikely allies, Konowa must retrieve the prophesied Red Star and put down a rebellion. Evans hews closely to the high fantasy template, and slyly humorous details-an elf who hates forests, a dark lord who saves babies and saplings-never quite redeem the boilerplate story and its grouchy hero. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.