cover image Lord of the Isles

Lord of the Isles

David Drake. Tor Books, $25.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85396-9

Primarily known for military SF, Drake (Fireships, etc.) shows a wider range in a genre fantasy with more suspense, action and horror than most. Clearly intended as the potential kickoff to a new series, this volume still resolves satisfactorily, gathering the characters who will oppose the threat to the Isles and shaping them through trials of battle skill, will and emotion. Tiny Barca's Hamlet is the home of 17-year-old Garric; his sister, Sharina; his friend Cashel; Cashel's sister, Ilna; and Nonnus, a hermit trying to forget the past. When an ancient female wizard is rescued near the village and others from outside the hamlet arrive (including royalty and more wizards), the five protagonists set out on a quest of destiny--at first in ignorance, but soon discovering much about themselves, the world they live in and magic. Drake's magic is more complex than most fantasy magic, and the dangers of uncontrollable power form an important theme here. His settings and magical creatures provide surprise and drama as well as plenty of color. This substantial fantasy, in which moral and physical threats are serious and the actions of the characters have real consequences, will appeal to those tired of watered-down myth. (Aug.)