cover image The Knights of the Black Earth

The Knights of the Black Earth

Margaret Weis. Roc, $18.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45425-6

Weis (the Dragonlance series, etc.) returns to her Stars of the Guardians series (The Lost King, etc.), this time collaborating with military expert and first-time author Perrin, formerly of the Canadian Defense Department. Cyborg Xris and the six other members of his mercenary Mag Force 7 team are back as well, seeking to foil a plot to assassinate the galactic ruler, King Starfire. High-tech combat and violent death permeate the narrative, which initially focuses on Xris's mission to do away with his former colleague, the transsexual Darin Cowan/Darlene Mohini. Xris, who was once wholly human, believes that Cowan betrayed him, leading to the accident that left the Force ruler imprisoned in a cyborg body. When a foppish, drug-using member of the team is kidnapped during that mission, the Force discovers the plot by the Knights of the Black Earth to kill the king. Adventures and misadventures, leavened with plot twists, humor and ample quotes from Sun Tzu, follow. Unexpectedly subtle yet filled with fast-paced action, this above-average space opera will please Weis's many fans. (May)