cover image Blade of Empire

Blade of Empire

Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Tor, $27.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2439-9

Vieliessar Farcarinon has made herself High King of the Elves in the enjoyable second of Lackey and Mallory’s epic fantasy trilogy (following Crown of Vengeance). Most of the Hundred Houses of the elven domains have acknowledged Vieliessar as ruler, but a few continue to contest her kingship. Hamphuliadiel, the villainous (and two-dimensionally portrayed) leader of the elven mages, attempts to become powerful enough to stand against her. Her major opposition, however, is the evil race of the Endarkened, whose appearance has been prophesied in terms vague enough that Vieliessar doesn’t know what to expect. Also, her soul-bonded, destined mate, Runacarendalur Caerthalien, runs off into the wilderness following his defeat in the war of her accession, and allies himself with several races of magical beasts (which the elves didn’t think of as sentient) to make inroads on Vieliessar’s territory. Lackey and Mallory provide tangled politics, large-scale battles, factional intrigue, and writing competent enough to make up for the cardboard characters and complete lack of original ideas. The book may not be, strictly speaking, good, but it’s certainly a lot of fun. (Oct.)