cover image The Scorched Earth

The Scorched Earth

Drew Karpyshyn. Del Rey, $15 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-54936-5

Karpyshyn's doom-laden spin on myth and magic invigorates ancient archetypes in the second entry of the Chaos Born trilogy. In this painstakingly crafted secondary-world adventure, magic has serious consequences, and good intentions often fail. Carefully realized social and political conflicts reverberate with supernatural menace. Entrapped demigod Daemron's emissaries Orath, the Crawling Twins, and Raven seek mystic talismans%E2%80%94Daemron's sword, the Crown, and the Ring%E2%80%94to open the Legacy, an occult prison. Chaos Born Cassandra flees with the crown, while unlikely savior Keegan dodges demonspawn and fanatical Inquisitors. Alliances teeter as Keegan's uncontrolled use of Chaos magic invites tragedy. Themes of conscience and sacrifice thread through the breathless escapism; these heroes are unsure whether they fight for good or evil. The journey is complicated by unnerving ambiguity, grim imagery, and pessimistic overtones, as if Michael Moorcock's decadence were filtered through J.R.R. Tolkien's heroism. (Aug.)