IN THE HALL OF THE MARTIAN KING

John Barnes, Author . Aspect $6.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-446-61083-4

To the delight of sci-fi fans, the scoundrel-hero Jak Jinnaka returns for another tale of high adventure, spying, double-crossing and intergalactic mischief. Just when Jak thinks that looking out for his boss's teenaged relative and trying to keep his visiting, infamous uncle from wreaking havoc will be the trickiest tasks he'll have for a while, he is ordered by the Hive intelligence agency to obtain the newly discovered diary of the progenitor of the "Wager"—the rules upon which their entire legal, spiritual and ethical system rests. The first problem he encounters is that the people he officially works for want him to steal the diary for them; the second arises when he's commanded to steal it for his ex-lover, the Princess of Greenworld, who has used mind control to make him her sex slave; then several old, dangerous friends become involved. A glance at the chapter headings—"A Double-Sided Snipe Hunt"; "A Panty Raid Is Not Standard Procedure"—will give readers an idea of the kind of fun they're in for, and Barnes's invented slang ("toktru" means very true or really; "tove" stands for lover or best friend) will keep them grounded in this fun, futuristic realm. With its eccentric characters and jaunty storytelling, Barnes's (A Princess of the Aerie) romp is irresistibly engaging. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/19/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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