cover image The Key to Creation: Terra Incognita, Book Three

The Key to Creation: Terra Incognita, Book Three

Kevin J. Anderson. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (704p) ISBN 978-0-316-00423-7

Mobs of squabbling humans and superhumans struggle to animate this big lump of sword and sorcery adventure, completing the trilogy that began with The Edge of the World (2009) and The Map of All Things (2010). The war between Uraba and Tierra is blazing, fanned by religious fanatics and atrocities committed on both sides. Explorers from both nations are sailing unknown seas to find the magical Key to Creation, which could determine which side gets to annihilate the other. There are some fresh ideas, including the discovery that the Key to Creation is not an object but a person, but the whole feels mechanical and labored; even the way the action bounces between the many characters and settings is a triumph of engineering rather than inspiration. The result is a long, undemanding wallow in generic tropes. (July)