Sunday, July 25, 2010

Land of the Burning Sands-Rachel Neumeier

Land of the Burning Sands
Rachel Neumeier
Orbit, Jun 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316072793

The Kingdom of Casmantium used griffins and the magic of fire to annex territory from its neighbor Feierabiand, but the subsequent war ended in abject defeat (see Lord of the Changing Winds). However, inside Casmantium, the loss has led to a power struggle as the fuming griffins have filled much of the void and are overtly hostile to the other sentient species especially the last surviving mage.

Convicted to a life of slavery Gereint Enseichen also believes the debacle has given him a chance to escape from his servitude. However, instead of freedom across the border, he finds himself caught in the middle of trying to prevent the griffins from turning the kingdom into a graveyard of burning sand as they are doing with the city of Melentser; ceded to them during the peace treaty. His mentor Amnachudran rescues Geraint from his botched plan; he and his wife send Gereint to Bredichboden to become an assistant to their brilliant absent minded scientist daughter Tehre. Back in his home city, the adventures continue as Gereint fears he will be caught while the King tries to save his throne.

While the griffins who starred in the first book take a bit of a respite, Gereint picks up the mantle of driving the story line as he tries to stay free. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish and the aftermath of a bitter defeat is made worse when everyone expected the glory of victory which is the vivid focus of this terrific fantasy. The middle Griffin Mage Trilogy thriller is a terrific entry as the action never stops coming while the cast is superb especially the convicted slave and the scientist.

Harriet Klausner

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