Tracato

Joel Shepherd, Pyr, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61614-244-5
The third (after Petrodor) of a projected four-book fantasy epic exemplifies middle book syndrome. After a rocky welcome in the titular port city, series heroine Sasha discovers her far-flung family gathering to attack Tracato for tangled political and personal reasons. Which side is she on? Treachery and war consume both sides, setting readers up for the conflagration to come. Shepherd is weakest at world-building, switching frequently among an enormous cast of similarly named characters who make long speeches about cultural and religious differences. These beliefs have little actual effect on anyone's action or motivation other than providing an excuse for torture and murder. Humans and nonhumans are indistinguishable despite many statements to the contrary. Nonetheless, vivid battle sequences and complex relationships between colorful, passionate characters leave the reader wanting to know Sasha and company's final fate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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