THE GATES OF DAWN: The Chronicles of Blood and Stone: Volume II
When the Paragon, the mystical crystal that harnesses the power of the endowed blood, starts to lose its power, Tristan of the House of Galland fears this means the end of his country Eutracia and the end of all magic, in Newcomb's dizzyingly uninspired second Blood and Stone fantasy (after his controversial debut, 2002's The Fifth Sorceress). The forces of good—headed by Tristan, his twin sister Shailiha, and the two wizards Faegan and Wigg—must find out who is draining the stone, why it's being drained and, most importantly, how to stop the magic from disappearing from Eutracia completely. As the prophesied "Chosen One," whose azure blood is the purest ever seen among the endowed, Tristan has a lot going for him, though the author's repeated emphasis on the purity of blood smacks uncomfortably of eugenics. As in volume one, the "data dump" method of offering plot points slows the action, what little there is of it. The wizards spend most of their time talking, while Tristan can scarcely contemplate lifting a sword against his evil nemesis. Those readers who were hoping Newcomb might avoid some of the first book's problems will only find more ammunition here. (June 10)
Forecast:While some fantasy fans felt Newcomb's first book lived up to the hype likening him to David Eddings or George R.R. Martin, others felt betrayed by the sloppy prose and an illogical premise. This second effort will only fuel those flames.