Banner of the Damned

Sherwood Smith, Author
Sherwood Smith. DAW, $25.95 (704p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0677-6
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Mass Market Paperbound - 752 pages - 978-0-7564-0804-6
Open Ebook - 704 pages - 978-1-101-57993-0
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Framed as a royal scribe's apologia, Smith's newest (after Blood Spirits) is a magical tale of political intrigue and romantic entanglements. When her sister, the Colendi Queen Hatahra, finally produces an heir, Princess Lasva's royal aspirations are dashed, so she despairingly departs for the barbarous land of Marloven Hesea, where she weds Prince Ivandred. Fearing for her sister's safety in a primitive land renowned for its military and magical might, Queen Hatahra charges the royal scribe Emras to keep watch over the Princess, and ascertain whether she is being influenced by the dark magic of Norsunder, a kingdom once believed to reside only in myth, but now distressingly real. Emras must fulfill the wishes of the Queen in accordance with the three rules of the scribe: "Do not interfere," "Keep The Peace," and "Tell the truth as we see it." In Emras's struggle to parse good from evil magic, something went terribly wrong, and now she is being forced to defend herself. A dawdling beginning is rescued by the bold and engaging female characters, and Smith's world is wonderfully imagined. While the legal defense frame occasionally makes for dry reading (and frequent transgressions of the ubiquitous axiom "Show; don't tell"), Smith's epic is nevertheless vividly realized and entertaining. (Apr. 3)
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