cover image WIT'CH GATE: Book Four of the Banned and the Banished

WIT'CH GATE: Book Four of the Banned and the Banished

James Clemens, . . Del Rey, $24 (544pp) ISBN 978-0-345-44244-4

D'warves, el'ves, og'res as well as various un-apostrophized mythical beasts populate this strangely compelling fourth installment in Clemens's saga (Wit'ch War, etc.). The overseer of this menagerie is Elena, a wit'ch with the gift of wit'chfire and coldfire, a type of magick that's accessed by bloodletting. Elena and her cohorts must eradicate an evil blight brought on by the Dark Lord and his minions, finding the weirgates that are sucking elemental magick from the land. The Dark Lord has been temporarily pushed back, but the four weirgates—in the shape of a basilisk, a manticore, a wyvern and a griffin—must be destroyed in order for our heroes to continue their fight against the forces of darkness. Elena's companions break into three groups, each journeying in a different cardinal direction to take on an individual weirgate (yes, only three directions—the fourth is where the Dark Lord lives and they can't tackle him yet). Each group possesses some form of elemental magick with which to surmount hazards. The book runs true to often predictable fantasy series form (one group receives help from a Gollum-like creature straight out of Tolkien), but the author supplies enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing what will happen next. Clemens fans will be left eager for the sequel. (Nov. 27)

FYI:Under the name James Rollins, Clemens has published the novels Subterranean, Excavation and Deep Fathom.