to Fantasy Reviews  

  of Fantasy Reviews

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

 LAST UPDATE 10/16/17

Conan and the Sorcerer by Andrew J. Offutt, Ace, 1978

Conan breaks into the wrong wizard's house and gets his soul stolen. To get it back, he has to track down a woman who stole a magical artifact from the wizard. He has various adventures before accomplishing this task, but he kills the wizard when he reneges on their agreement. With his soul held in a mirror, Conan seeks another way to be made whole again in a cliff hanger ending. 10/16/17

Conan and the Shaman's Curse by Sean A. Moore, Tor, 1997 

Conan gets cursed by a dying man and has a series of episodic adventures including a brief transformation into a giant ape, a fight with giant vultures, and other dangers. He eventually realizes the curse is responsible for his string of bad luck and tracks down another magic maker who can lift the curse. This was the weakest of Moore's three Conan pastiches although it has some good bits scattered throughout. 10/11/17

Boneyard by Seanan McGuire, Tor, 2017, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-7530-8

This one is a tie-in to the Deadlands role playing game, which is set in the late 19th Century in a version of America where magic is common. I am unfamiliar with the game which appears to be similar to Magic the Gathering in its mechanics.  This particular novel takes place in Oregon inside a traveling circus. The protagonist is the woman who runs one of the exhibits, who has a mute daughter and a troubled past that is finally catching up to her. The show is stopping at a small town with promises good revenue, but there are also rumors of disappearances of transients in the area, and naturally that's going to be the focus of the bulk of the novel. There are some clever critters sprinkled through the book, which I thought was better than the author's urban fantasies that I've read. 10/10/17

Conan and the Grim Grey God by Sean A. Moore, Tor, 1997

This is a quite complex sword and sorcery adventure in which Conan is searching for a buried city that supposedly holds a statue worth a great deal of money. It is actually the embodiment of a god whose name has been forgotten. His recurring enemy, Thoth-Amon, is also looking for the statue, along with another sorcerer, a professional assassin, the head of the local thieves' guild, an adventurous woman, and other parties. A long dead warrior is brought back from the dead and the world is in danger until Conan ends the threat. This was quite enjoyable. 10/9/27

Conan the Hunter by Sean A. Moore, Tor, 1994

I know very little about the author, who died quite young after producing three Conan novels and the novelization of the Kull movie. Although this first novel is yet another variation of the same theme a sorcerer assists some traitors in an effort to usurp a throne there are some nice touches here and there and the prose is quite good. It's a shame we never had a chance to see any original material by Moore. The sorceress this time is not even human. Conan is accused of murdering the royal princess, and goes underground quite literally to prove his innocence. 10/8/17

Conan the Victorious by Robert Jordan, Tor, 1984

Conan has been poisoned and will die unless he can find the antidote within a few days. His opponent has died so he must trace him back into the wilds of Vendhya, where he gets caught up in the usual efforts to steal the throne from the rightful king, aided by a nefarious sorcerer. As always Jordan told a good story, but the repetition of the same basic plot is not relieved by the few minor variations that he adds. He switched to his own fantasy world for the Wheel of Time series and never returned to Conan. 10/5/17

Conan the Magnificent by Robert Jordan, Tor, 1984  

The evil sorcerer this time is organizing the hillmen for war against the cities of Zamora. Conan has been out smarted by a female thief, but has also managed to raise the hackles of a predatory noblewoman and an avaricious merchant. They all ride out into the desert to pursue rumors of a dragon, but the dragon is more dangerous than expected and nearly kills them all. The sorcerer gets defeated and Conan ends up with the purloined jewels. A nicely told adventure. 10/3/17

Conan the Destroyer by Robert Jordan, Tor, 1984

The novelization of the second Conan movie contains none of the annoying inconsistencies of the first. Conan is hired to escort a young woman who has a magical bond to an artifact which will eventually be used to wake the Sleeping God. But his employer has more nefarious secrets that will make Conan balk at the final consummation of the deal. This wasn't a bad movie and the novelization is quite readable. 10/3/17

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic, 2017, $18.99, ISBN 978-0-545-93080-2

The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury, Scholastic, 2017, $11.99, ISBN 978-1-338-19295-7

Two new Young Adult fantasy novels. The first is set more or less in our world, though in a small town in California where magic and the miraculous are not unusual. Three members of the family each have unusual powers, unusual personal problems and preoccupations, and each will contribute significantly to the future of their town and each other. The author always spends a great deal of time bringing her characters to life and in some ways they are themselves more intriguing than the story, although the story itself is intriguing, though perhaps a bit slow to develop. The second title is more of a traditional fantasy mixed with a fairy tale. The Sleeping Prince has awakened and is not a happy camper. He imposes a rigid rule over two kingdoms and sends his minions to track down and eliminate the rebels, among whom are out two protagonists. Each of them has a series of adventures. This is the final volume in a trilogy and I've never seen the first two, so it was a little difficult to follow the story at times. 10/1/17