Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

 

When I change, I change fast. The moon drags the whatever-it-is up from the earth, and it goes through me with crazy wriggling impatience . . . I’m twisted, torn, churned, throttled—then rushed through a blind chicane into ludicrous power . . . A heel settles. A last canine hurries through. A shoulder blade pops. The woman is a werewolf.  (Book description from Goodreads)

Warning is post contains spoilers if you have not read The Last Werewolf.

Tallula Rising is the sequel to The Last Werewolf.  As the title indicates this book focuses on Talulla, who was introduced near the end of The Last Werewolf.  Jake Marlow is dead, killed by WCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena) the same people who are hunting her.  They are going to have to stand in line because the vampires are after her too.  Sound cliche?  Sound like every other werewolf/vampire book you have read?  While the theme may sound familiar, the execution is far from it.  Duncan creates a world where the classic monsters are real but does so in a way that kept me turning the pages.  Talulla is a monster, something she freely admits, but here is where Duncan deviates from the typical self loathing monster trope.  Talulla accepts what she is.  While this does not mean that she is not remorseful about killing and feeding on humans once a month, she understands and accepts it.  I really liked this aspect of the book.  Duncan created a monster that I wanted to befriend knowing all the while she would probably kill me.  Having  monsters that were not killing for the sake of killing and at the same not wallowing in self-pity at their monstrous appetites made room for an engaging story with very interesting characters.

The premise is straightforward, Talulla is pregnant with Jake Marlow’s child and moments after the birth of her son he is kidnapped (not going to give any spoilers here but another unexpected twist occurs as well) by vampires to be used a ritual to raise the oldest living vampire to power.  At first blush this sounded like the plot of the next Blade movie, but it was the characters that really did it for me.  I was so focused on what Talulla and company were thinking and feeling that the whole “vampire ritual” theme took a backseat. 

I liked the way the story unfolded, Talulla struggling with the loss of her child and wondering what kind of mother a werewolf would make, legends of the oldest living vampire, Remshi, and then there was the constant pull of the monster inside her.  I will say that this book is rather graphic and not for the squeamish.  There are graphic depictions of werewolves killing and having sex (occasionally at the same time) but Duncan does it in a way that works.  The sex and violence, both a prominent occurrence in the book, doesn’t get in the way of the overall story.

I really enjoyed Tallula Rising and am looking forward to the third book in the series, By Blood We Live

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The tale of a youth whose features, year after year, retain the same appearance of innocent beauty while the shame of his abhorrent vices becomes mirrored on the features of his portrait.  (Summary from Goodreads)

I have been wanting to expand my reading of the classics and I thought I would start with The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew the premise of the story and had watched the 2009 movie version starring Ben Barnes but I knew I was not getting the entire story, so I decided to read the book. 

What if we could stay young and beautiful and channel all of the worst parts of ourselves into a repository for our sins? Well that is just what Dorian Gray does. I am an avid reader of speculative fiction and while the book hints at the supernatural (the painting) it plays only a minor role and instead focuses on Dorian’s life of pure hedonism.

Oscar Wilde’s prose is beautiful to read and adds such an air of romance to the book that every page blossoms. The characters are very passionate, not just in a physical sense, but in everything they do. Dorian in his quest experience all the pleasures of life, Basil in his pursuit of art, and even Lord Henry and his social experiments.

Dorian comes across as a self-centered and egotistical dandy, whose physical beauty keeps him popular in social circles even if his acts do not. Dorian is such an interesting character and I have to wonder, was Dorian destined to fall in such a way, or was he pushed? The opening scene where Basil is finishing the painting of Dorian and meets Lord Henry is, in my opinion, the pivotal point of the story. Basil and Lord Henry are the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. One pushing him to goodness and purity and the other pushing him seek only pleasure. It is interesting to think what Dorian might have become had he never met Lord Henry.

While Dorian’s story is fascinating (though the story did slog a bit for me at chapter 11 but picked up afterward) , Lord Henry is even more interesting. I think he is just as much a villain as Dorian. He moves through the book pushing Dorian to heights of excess and all the while never doing those things himself. He is like the drug dealer that sells but never partakes. He is content to sit back and watch events unfold after setting them in motion. He makes mention early in the book of his love of social experiments and I would say that Dorian is his greatest achievement.

Reading The Picture of Dorian Gray made to realise the plethora of classics that I have not read but would most certainly enjoy. I will certainly be reading more in the future.

The Crow by James O’Barr

Eric has returned from the dead, driven only by hate and the need to wreak revenge on those who killed him and raped and then killed his beloved Shelly.   (summary from Goodreads)

I received The Crow as a Christmas gift in 1994 after falling in love with the movie earlier that year. This is only the second time that I have read it and it has stood the test of time for it remains my favorite graphic novel.

The Crow is a powerful story of love, loss, and revenge. It is dark, very dark, and almost painful to read at times because of the raw emotions that proliferate the pages.

One of the most powerful sections of this book is the introduction by John Bergin and it describes how O’Barr funneled his rage and pain at losing someone dear into the pages of this book. Here is my favorite part of the introduction and sets the tone of the story.

One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day. Not faith…not religion…nothing. When someone you love dies, you will know emptiness… You will know what it is to be completely and utterly alone. You will never forget and never forgive. The lonely do not usually speak as completely and intimately as James O’Barr does here in this book- so, if anything, at least take this lesson from The Crow: think about what you have to lose.

I have a very deep, emotional connection to this book.  Not long after reading it my father was killed in a car crash.  One day he was there and the next he was gone.  Nothing can prepare you for that kind of pain.  One day you are making plans and then, in the blink of an eye, that person is gone and all that is left is a void that nothing can fill.  There is pain, rage, sadness, but worst of all is the terrible feeling of loneliness.  I struggled for months after my father’s death but this book helped me put the pieces of my life back together.  It gave me an outlet for all my rage and pain.

Looking back, this was one of the first graphic novels I ever read and it set the stage for my love of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, whose wild black hair, pale skin, and brooding demeanor reminded be so much of Eric Draven.

Dark Hollow by Brian Keene

 

Book Synopsis

Something very strange is happening in LeHorn’s Hollow…
Eerie, piping music is heard late at night, and mysterious fires have been spotted deep in the woods. Women are vanishing without a trace overnight, leaving behind husbands and families.
When up-and-coming novelist Adam Senft stumbles upon an unearthly scene, it plunges him and the entire town into an ancient nightmare. Folks say the woods in LeHorn’s Hollow are haunted, but what waits there is far worse than any ghost. It has been summoned…and now it demands to be satisfied.  

My Thoughts 

I never really considered myself a horror fan until I started reading Brian Keene‘s work. Sure, I had read a few Stephen King books and enjoyed them but never really considered a true fan of the genre. I just stood at the edge of the pool and occasionally dipped my toe in. Brian Keene changed all that. I read The Girl on the Glider a few years back and it sparked something in me, something that I had not found in other books in the genre. I am not exactly sure what it is, maybe it is the way that he details the main characters daily routine, getting the reader comfortable and then suddenly jerking the carpet out from under both the characters and the reader. Nothing will ever be the same.

I really like the world building. You have our normal, everyday world, one in which we feel safe, but there is something else out there. Something monstrous, alien, and eternal. The only thing holding this darkness at bay are a handful of people.

The characters are likable and easy to relate to. I wish I had the relationship with my neighbors that Adam has with his.

I want to read the sequel, Ghost Walk, because I want to know what happened to Adam. The ending while chilling gives closure, but hints at more to come.

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars is the first short story collection of Stephen King’s I have ever read.  Actually I would not call it a short story collection, more of a novella collection as there are four stories, each ranging from about 80 to 100 pages.  This book has one of the most descriptive titles I have ever read, because it captures the core of each story, utterly and completely dark.  And when I say dark, I am talking the complete absence of light in the purest sense.  This is not anti-hero dark, this is you have lost everything and there is no hope dark.

As I mentioned there are four stories in Full Dark, No Stars; “1922″, “Big Driver”, “Fair Extension”, and “A Good Marriage”. I read them all in order (which is not something that I always do when reading short story collections), except for the last two.  I read “A Good Marriage” before I ending the book with “Fair Extension”.  I am not really sure when I did this other than the concept of “A Good Marriage” struck my fancy at the time.  This worked well for me as “Fair Extension” seemed like a good ending for the collection.  If you wanted to attempt to end this collection on a high note, I think the story “Fair Extension” is about as close as you are going to get.

I am not going to summarize the stories because I think that takes some of the fun away from the reader and spoils the experience.  I will say that my favorite is probably “Big Driver”, as it is a story of revenge, and who does not like a good “getting what they deserve” tale, but as with all good King stories, there is a twist.  I would definitely label these stories as “horror”, no doubt about that, but of the psychological kind more than the “monster/evil entity” type. One story had some of latter but was still heavy on the psychological bent.

King picks at the scab until it bleeds.  He uncovers the monster in all of us.  That was what I found most disturbing in these stories.  These were ordinary people, placed in extraordinary circumstances (the hallmark of King’s style) and we the reader sit back and watch the events unfold in utter fascination (or should I say horror).  The scariest monsters out there are not demented clowns, vampires, or possessed cars, we are the scariest.  A fact these stories drive home.

I found several covers to Full Dark, No Stars, but I think the most powerful is the overhead view of the woman with her arm outstretched and covering her head.  It looks like she may be trying to push someone (or something) away and protect herself.  I think this captures that essence of these stories.  The sense of helplessness while being engulfed by darkness.

I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone looking for something “different” in their horror.  The psychological bent to these stories really worked for me and I am hoping to find more like this as I read more of King’s work.

Book Review: Liar’s Blade by Tim Pratt

Liar’s Blade

Liar’s Blade

Author: Tim Pratt

Publisher: Paizo Publishing

With strength, wit, rakish charm, and a talking sword named Hrym, Rodrick has all the makings of a classic hero – except for the conscience. Instead, he and Hrym live a high life as scoundrels, pulling cons and parting the weak from their gold. When a mysterious woman invites them along on a quest into the frozen north in pursuit of a legendary artifact, it seems like a prime opportunity to make some easy coin – especially if there’s a chance for a double-cross. Along with a hooded priest and a half-elven tracker, the team sets forth into a land of witches, yetis, and ancient magic. As the miles wear on, however, Rodrick’s companions begin acting steadily stranger, leading man and sword to wonder what exactly they’ve gotten themselves into… (text from Goodreads listing)

I am a big fan of shared world fiction. Some of my most favorite books are in fantasy settings such as the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and Ravenloft. I found Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales through some of the author’s I have read in previous shared world settings. After reading Liar’s Blade I think Golarion is a place I could hang my hat for a while.

Liar’s Blade introduces two reluctant heroes, Rodrick, a sharp tongued rogue, and his partner in crime, Hrym, who happens to be a sentient sword made of living ice. Rodrick is really not that good of a fighter, preferring to use his silver tongue and sharp wits to win the day. When it comes down to a fight Roderick would much rather rely on Hrym and his powers.

One of the best things about the book was the banter between Rodrick and Hrym. It is cutting (no pun intended) and sarcastic even in the heat of battle. It reminded me of Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law in the Sherlock Holmes movies. In fact, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes/Tony Stark was the first person that popped in my mind when I read Rodrick’s introduction. The duo also reminded me of Frizt Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which is high praise as they are the epitome of the swords and sorcery genre.

On a deeper level the banter between Rodrick and Hrym revealed a true friendship. It was interesting to see this type of relationship between a man and a sentient sword. When I think of sentient swords I think of Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer and his parasitic relationship with Elric of Melnibone. This was not the case with Rodrick and Hrym and added an interesting perspective to the story.

I enjoy a good “quest” story. One in which there is treacherous terrain to traverse, deep caverns to explore, and ancient relics protected by formidable guardians. Add to the mix excellent supporting characters; a zealot priest seeking an legendary artifact, a deformed sorceress, and a destiny seeking half-elf, throw in a dash of treachery and deceit, and you have one hell of a fun read.

Liar’s Blade leaves you hoping (and anticipating) more of Rodrick and Hrym and I will certainly be adding more Tim Pratt and Pathfinder Tales to my collection.

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Kenobi

 

The Republic has fallen.

Sith Lords rule the galaxy.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi has lost everything . . . 
Everything but hope.
 
Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
 
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
 
Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice. (from Amazon description)

Book Info

Author: John Jackson Miller

Release Date: August 27, 2012

Format: HardcoverEbookCD, and Audible

Of all the characters in the Star Wars universe Obi-Wan Kenobi has always been my favorite.  His wisdom and calm, patient demeanor always resonated with me.  I always wondered what happened to Obi-Wan after bringing Luke to live with the Lars on Tatooine.  Well gentle readers wonder no more for his story is told.

Miller did an excellent job of keeping things on a smaller scale, but keeping it action packed.  It would have been easy for Obi-Wan to face the threats head-on but that would expose him, and possibly Luke, to the Empire. Obi-Wan must find a subtler way to protect Luke and his new neighbors, while at the same time retaining his anonymity. Miller does a fantastic job at weaving this conflict into the story.  The book had a bit of a wild west feel;  the general store , the bar, and the moisture farmers.  All of this gave the story great atmosphere.

It must have been difficult for a man of action such as Obi-Wan to adopt such a hermetic lifestyle as he did on Tatooine.  I am sure that his Jedi training helped because of the focus of non-attachment to people and things. It still must have been difficult for him given Anakin’s fall to the darkside and the eradication of the Jedi order. Kudos to Miller on how Obi-Wan’s inner turmoil is played out in the story.

The book also touched on his loneliness, and you get to see an even gentler side of Obi-Wan.  There were some very touching scenes and your heart goes out to him because you get a true picture of what he gave up to keep Luke safe.  We also get to see how the legends of “crazy of Ben” came to be.

This is one of the best Star Wars books I have read in years and hats off to Miller for an absolutely amazing job on Kenobi. I think this book will become canon in the Star Wars expanded universe and will the be reference point for all readers when asking the question, “what did Obi-Wan do all those years on Tatooine?”.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The GODBORN by Paul S. Kemp

THE GODBORN

In the 2nd book of the multi-author Sundering series launched by New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore, the shadow legacy of Erevis Cale lives on even as his old foe Mephistopheles seeks to stamp it out at any cost. Cale’s son Vasen—unmoored in time by the god Mask—has thus far been shielded from the archdevil’s dark schemes, alone among the servants of the Lord of Light who have raised him since birth.

Living in a remote abbey nestled among the Thunder Peaks of Sembia, Vasen is haunted by dreams of his father, trapped in the frozen hell of Cania. He knows the day will come when he must assume his role in the divine drama unfolding across Faerûn. But Vasen knows not what that role should be . . . or whether he is ready to take it on. He only knows what his father tells him in dreams—that he must not fail.

Enter Drasek Riven, a former compatriot of Erevis Cale, now near divine and haunted by dreams of his own—he too knows the time to act is near. Shar, the great goddess of darkness, looks to cast her shadow on the world forever. Riven has glimpsed the cycle of night she hopes to complete, and he knows she must be stopped.

At the crossroads of divine intrigue and mortal destiny, unlikely heroes unite to thwart the powers of shadow and hell, and the sundering of worlds is set on its course.

The Godborn by Paul S. Kemp  (published by Wizards of the Coast) is book two of The Sundering , an epic, world-spanning event in the Forgotten Realms. The first book is The Companions by R.A. Salvatore. Though both books detail events leading to the Sundering, reading the first one is not a requirement to enjoy and follow The Godborn.

​Some books just make you giddy with anticipation.  As a long time Paul S. Kemp fan, I have been waiting for Vasen Cale’s story for a long time, and now after so many years the story is told.  While there are previous books that detail some of the events that lead up to The Godborn there is enough backstory to bring new readers up to speed on previous events and characters yet not bog down the story for veteran fans.

​Vasen Cale, son of Erevis Cale and Varra, is a very interesting character. Baring his father’s shade heritage, but raised in the legendary Abbey of the Rose, he serves Amaunator, the Lord of Light.  His dusky skin and yellow eyes set him apart from others, but does not shake his faith in the god he serves.

​We meet up with old friends, Drasek Riven, Magadon, Rivelin Brennus, and the Lord of Cania himself, Mephistopheles, and meet new ones as well. As much I as enjoyed reading and learning more about about Vasen Cale, I equally enjoyed the supporting characters.  Their stories added great depth to the book.  I want to keep this review spoiler free so I will avoid detailing any events, but I will say that they are rendered with Paul’s signature “darkness” that I have enjoyed in his previous books.

​The book is fast paced, with several different groups of characters caught up in a maelstrom of events that ultimately lead them to a final epic scene. The prose and pacing were tight and each chapter pulled me further into the story, making it impossible to put the book down. ​There are many sad moments in The Godborn. Scenes that are so heartbreaking they take your breath away, yet just as Vasen walks the road between shadow and light, there are moments of overwhelming joy.

I highly recommend Paul’s previous work.  To get the entire picture of how awesome Erevis Cale and company are you should read the series from the beginning starting with, Shadow’s Witness,  then The Erevis Cale Trilogy and finally The Twilight War (Shadowbred, Shadowstorm, and Shadowrealm). The Godborn will not be released until October 1 so you have time to catch up on the story thus far.  But as I stated earlier, none of these are a requirement to enjoy The Godborn.  It stands on its own.

The Godborn is a must read for all Paul S. Kemp fans. He brings us the story that we have been waiting years to read. The wait is over, and trust me, it was definitely worth it.

My thanks to Wizards of the Coast for providing me with a review copy through Netgalley.

False Covenant by Ari Marmell

False Covenant

False Covenant (A Widdershins Adventure, Book 2)
Author: Ari Marmell
Publisher: Pyr
Release Date: June 26, 2012 (Available now at Amazon.com)
Format: Hardcover and ebook
Length: 250 pages

Book Description:

A creature of the other world, an unnatural entity bent on chaos and carnage, has come to stalk the nighttime streets of the Galicien city of Davillon. There’s never a good time for murder and panic, but for a community already in the midst of its own inner turmoil, this couldn’t possibly have come at a worse one.

Not for Davillon, and not for a young thief who calls herself Widdershins.

It’s been over half a year since the brutal murder of Archbishop William de Laurent during his pilgrimage to Davillon. And in all that time, Widdershins has truly tried her best. She’s tried to take care of Genevieve’s tavern and tried to make a semihonest living in a city slowly stagnating under the weight of an angry and disapproving Church. She’s tried to keep out of trouble, away from the attentions of the Davillon Guard and above the secrets and schemes of the city’s new bishop.

But she’s in way over her head, with no idea which way to turn. The Guard doesn’t trust her. The Church doesn’t trust her. Her own Thieves’ Guild doesn’t trust her.

Too bad for everyone, then, that she and her personal god, Olgun, may be their only real weapon against a new evil like nothing the city has ever seen.

My Thoughts

(Note: This post will contain spoilers if you have not read the first book, Thief’s Covenant.)

To say that I loved False Covenant would be an understatement and I think the name Widdershins will be on the lips of fantasy readers everywhere this year and for many to come.  There are several things that make this book an excellent read.

The Setting – Davillon has a renaissance France feel to it. The city is rich, vibrant, and full of life.  I was easily able to picture everything from the cobblestoned streets to the church architecture due to Ari’s descriptive prose.  The city came alive and made me want to wander the streets and get lost in the crowds.  Based on what we have  seen of Davillon,  I can only imagine what wonders the rest of Ari’s world holds for us.

The Villain – Ari created one of the creepiest and most original “bad guys” I have read in some time. Scenes from The Ring and The Grudge came to mind as the creature skittered across the pages. I would love to know the thought process that went into creating this creature, or maybe not, reading about it was creepy enough, and it’s genesis might really give me nightmares. Even though there was a demon that had to be defeated in the first book, this creature brought things to a whole new level, requiring not only Widdershins and Olgun’s skills, but the help of friends and enemies alike. I love it when I read an unforgettable villain and it just goes to show Ari’s writing skill in making original and multi-dimensional characters.

The Characters – I know this one is rather obvious, as what is a story without the characters, but it still merits mentioning. Widdershins has been through so much it is hard to believe she is as young as she is.  Even with all the wise cracks and bravado there is a vulnerable side to Widdershins. There is some romance in the story but nothing over the top as to take away from the story.  It is quite sweet and endearing and adds to the character’s depth, to both Widdershins and the others involved.  I really like Widdershin’s banter with Olgun, it adds some levity to the book even during the most serious of times.  Their bond is such an interesting and intergal part of the story.  I mean, how cool is it to have your own personal god?  Ari’s characters, Widdershins, Robin, Julien, and Renard, are all people I can relate to, which further anchored me in the story.

The Ending – I will try not give anything away about the ending other than it was epic, and by far one of the best “endings” I have read in some time.  Did I want the book to end the way it did? No, but did I absolutely love the ending?  An emphatic yes.  I love when authors do this to me.  They draw me into a book and I fall in love with the characters (or at least a serious like),and then one leaves the story even though I want them to stay. This ramps up the tension and leaves me dying for more.  This is another thing I like about Ari’s writing, he is not afraid to sacrifice a character in order to craft a great story.

The first book, Thief’s Convenant, was a great read, but Ari shows that can make “great” even better with False Covenant.  I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to readers young and old (and anywhere in between).

This review was of an ARC I received from the publisher Pyr.

Spinner of Lies by Bruce Cordell

Memories of his past incarnations haunt Demascus, even as he searches for stolen portraits that contain the trapped souls of demigods. Meanwhile, drow creep beneath the city of Airspur, intent on precipitating war between Akanûl and a rival nation. As Demascus attempts to win freedom from the ghost of his murdered lover, he agrees to thwart the drow’s secret scheme, sending him on a trail that stretches between the Demonweb, Airspur, and an island that appears on no map.

Spinner of Lies is the sequel to Sword of the Gods and takes place a few months after Sword of the Gods. We meet back up with the cast of the previous book, Demascus, a divine assassin known as the Sword of the Gods, Riltana, a wise cracking windsoul genasi who steals from the wealth of Airspur, and Chant Morven, a pawn shop owner with a network of informants that keep him abreast of events in the city.  There is a new addition to the group, Jaul Morven, Chant’s son.  Their relationship is not on the best of terms and this provides a great side plot to the story.  I really enjoyed group’s interactions, especially Riltana’s scathing comments to Demascus in the heat of battle.  Bruce’s crowning achievement is his characters. He is able to weave a tight story but at the same time you get to hear the character’s inner monologues describing their hopes and fears.  Things like Demascus’s fear of losing his identity, Riltana’s hopes for her estranged lover, and Chant’s worry for his son, helped draw me in and really feel a kinship with the characters. Readers of Bruce’s Abolethic Sovereignty  will be happy to see Captain Thoster, the captain of the Green Siren, again.  There is also a reference to the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons module, Tomb of Horrors, that longtime players will notice.  (I really enjoyed the reference).

There are lots of things going on in Spinner of Lies.  The first is Queen Arathane’s  request for Demascus and company to discover the reason communication has stopped to a mine on a secret island that left unchecked could lead to war with Tymanther, next is Demacus’s murdered lover that has come back to haunt him, then stolen paintings that hold the souls of demigods, and finally a potential drow invasion.  That is a lot of ground to cover in just one book but Bruce takes these plots and spins them (no pun intended) into thread that reaches a very satisfying conclusion.

Central to the plot are the drow.  The drow have been a favorite race of mine since I first read R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt series years back.  Why are they lurking in Airspur and who are they in league with?  Spinner of Lies  is part of Wizards of the Coast’s Rise of the Underdark, an event that will have bold, sweeping ramifications across (and under) the Forgotten Realms.

Even with multiple plots going on there is still time to focus on the main character, Demascus.  He is a divine assassin, the “Sword of the Gods”, an instrument of divine retribution.  These words are inscribed on Demascus’s sarcophagus:

“Agent of Fate, Emissary of Divine Judgement, Cuttter of Destiny’s Thread. You died as you lived, and you will live again, Demascus, Sword of the Gods.”

Yet he is still only a shadow of his former self and without his artifact, the Whorl of Ioun,  he is more human than divine agent of vengeance.  But is this necessarily a bad thing?  Demascus wants to be more human, and not a tool of the gods, to control is own destiny.  He can feel the other part of himself, the part that revels in destruction, waiting to take over, and has to fight to keep it in check.  It would be so easy to let that part take over but it would truly cost him his humanity.  There is a scene where Demascus seeks divine counsel and things do not go well.  The dialog that occurs during that scene is fantastic.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I normally do not think on how well the title of a book fits a story,  I concentrate on the characters and the story itself, but this time the title really stood out to me.  Spinner of Lies is a very apt title as it perfectly describes the parallel plot lines in the book.  I will not go into detail as to spoil it for other readers, but it was very well done.

I have been a longtime reader of Bruce’s work and he continues to write books worthy of any fantasy reader’s bookshelf, and Spinner of Lies is no exception.  I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it.

Spinner of Lies will be available in ebook on June 5, 2012 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

This review was of an ARC from NetGalley.