In The Well of Darkness (HarperCollins, 2000/VOYA April 2001), the ambitious young prince, Dagnarus, rose to power. Two hundred years later, in Guardians of the Lost (HarperCollins, 2002/VOYA April 2002), war enveloped the world of Loerem, and a long-lost part of the Sovereign Stone was recovered. Now, as The Sovereign Stone Trilogy concludes, Dagnarus, the Lord of the Void, continues to threaten Loerem, a land inhabited by elves, orks, humans, and dwarves, where magic is an everyday occurrence. The events in this book follow directly upon those in the second volume, and fans will welcome back the hobbit-like pecwae, Bashae, and the Grandmother, as well as other familiar characters such as the Trevicini knight Jessan and the wizard Alise. The hero, Baron Shademehr, could be in his thirties, but he still has a lot of growing up to do. When he accepts the responsibility that he has long avoided, the safety of the Sovereign Stone, he begins to mature. Meanwhile, three othersthe elven Damra, Wolfram the dwarf, and an orken captaincarry the other parts of the Stone. Many plot lines, not to mention many characters, converge as these Dominion Lords strive to unite the Stone and vanquish Dagnarus. The books are linked to a role-playing game, so a large amount of exposition sometimes slows the narrative. When the pace quickens, the action, the fights, and the magic are sometimes enough to divert the reader's attention from the clunky, cliché-ridden prose. Only libraries that already own the first two volumes will want to purchase the third. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in thesubject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, HarperCollins, 484p., Ages 15 to Adult.
Rousing, action-heavy, well-plotted conclusion to the prolific fantasy duo’s sprawling, derivative sword-and-sorcery trilogy. For all its nods at Tolkien (wizards, humans, dwarfs, elves, orcsspelled here with a kand other squabbling fantasy beings must join forces to deal with powerful magic desired by an villain) and Star Wars (reluctant but resourceful heroes, sardonic derring-do, even an evil character whose hand is sliced off) and other pop-culture genre triumphs, this trilogy rises above the rest by giving its characters, human and otherwise, a spirited dignity as they bring the four fragments of the Sovereign Stone to the pseudo-Middle Earth city of New Vinnegael, where the power-mad Lord Dagnarus, a master of deadly "void" magic, and his army of beastly but occasionally charming Taan, want to put the fragments together so he can attain godlike powers. As usual, the authors open with the death of a major character and also a resurrection: Baron Shadamehr, who, in the previous installment, was stabbed with a deadly void knife, is brought back from the edge of death by the loveand sorceryof the beautiful Alise. The Vrykyls, intelligent zombies who assume the shape of beings they kill, are the most interesting characters here, and the wily Shakur, who’s assumed the shape of Vinnegael’s regent is a conniving hoot. The others, including the awful Dagnarus and his father Tamaros, who, like any kindly fantasy character, can’t stay dead, are genre knock-offs who struggle mightily but can’t stop Dagnarus from reassembling the Stone. Good doesn’t so much triumph as does megalomania fail. Better-than-average fantasy retread that offers few surprises but tells thefamiliar quest story with a dash of wit and verve.