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Books for Review should be sent to: Don D'Ammassa, 323 Dodge Street, East Providence, RI 02914

 LAST UPDATE 7/20/18

Gateway to Elsewhere by Murray Leinster, Ace, 1954 

This was the only real fantasy novel by Leinster. The protagonist finds a way into a parallel world where djinn are real and are engaged in a war against humans. Our hero plumbs the secrets of that world, defeats the djinn and becomes their king, then marries the queen of the humans, who has been masquerading as a slave girl. Most of it is light humor and some of it is rather silly, but I was generally amused. Although it did not appear in Unknown Worlds, this is the kind of fantasy that is usually associated with that magazine. 7/20/18

Alternate Routes by Tim Powers, Baen, 2018

As usual, this new Tim Powers novel is full of unusual ideas. The existence of freeways has caused a kind of supernatural current that allows “ghosts” to enter our world, among other manifestations. A secret government agency is aware of this and uses extra legal procedures to make sure outsiders don’t learn the truth. The protagonist is an ex-police officer who overheard something he should not have and who is now a wanted fugitive. Another agent has somewhat reluctantly found herself helping him, which makes her a fugitive as well. The wild adventures ensue from this set up. I was occasionally a bit bewildered because the story is not very explicit about how things work, but otherwise carried along merrily through a very odd alternate version of our world. 7/17/18

Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel, Tor, 2018, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-8199-6

Sequel to Mystic from a couple years back. A commoner who has been granted access to magical secrets may be the last hope of the world when it is faced with an invasion from a kind of fairylike other world. Her privilege has never been popular with more traditional parts of her society, but she has persevered. As a wave of deaths and disappearances spreads, the protagonist and her fellow mystics find it increasingly difficult to forge any kind of defense. Solid prose and a somewhat different fantasy setting, although the plot is both familiar and for the most part predictable. I did rather like the protagonist but some of the other significant characters felt flat. 7/15/18

Shy Leopardess by Leslie Barringer, Newcastle, 1977 (originally published in 1948) 

This follows the second novel in the series after a twenty-year gap. It is mostly the story of Yolande, a young girl whose father is murdered so that she can be forced to marry Balthasar, her estate thereby falling under the control of another family. Balthasar is a cruel villain, however and Yolande has several friends who eventually enable her to escape her fate. A bit long winded at times, but the court intrigues are well structured and Balthasar is a better than average bad guy. None of the three novels in the series were commercial successes, perhaps because there was no real audience for non-fantastic alternate history.7/8/18

Joris of the Rock by Leslie Barringer, Newcastle, 1976 (originally published in 1928 )

Sequel, sort of, to Gerfalcon.  There are various adventures as the factions within Neustria compete for power under a weak king. Joris is a notorious bandit leader who is in love with a reputed witch. He has also unknowingly fathered a son by rape. The boy becomes the page of Raoul, hero of the first book, unaware of his parentage. The king dies and there is a civil war, after which Joris is a hunted man who is eventually killed by his own son. The story wanders quite a bit this time and has multiple protagonists so it feels very diffused. 7/4/18