cover image Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a Blue Moon

Simon R. Green. Roc, $16 trade paper (576p) ISBN 978-0-451-41466-3

It’s hard to invest in an epic fantasy, even one in which the personal and political stakes are high, when it includes heavy-handed parody and rapid, credulity-straining shifts in emotions. But that’s the challenge Green has created for readers in his uneven fifth Forest Kingdom novel (after 2005’s Blue Moon Rising). A brief prologue orients the newcomer: it’s been 100 years since Prince Rupert and Princess Julia vanquished the Demon Prince, and dire omens abound. Captains Hawk and Fisher, heads of the Dutchy of Lancre’s Hero Academy, can feel danger encroaching, so they prepare to step down from their positions overseeing the training of warriors. The fast-moving plot soon involves a radical proposal to end a longstanding state of hostility between two powerful kingdoms, which coincides with the return of evil in an insidious form. After a strong start, Green falters, and readers will struggle to buy in. (Jan.)