cover image The Jackal of Nar: Book One of Tyrants and Kings

The Jackal of Nar: Book One of Tyrants and Kings

John Marco. Spectra Books, $14.95 (672pp) ISBN 978-0-553-37984-6

The central character of Marco's debut novel, an epic military fantasy, is Prince (later King) Richius of Aramor, who when introduced is a captain in the army of the Nar people, fighting the racially and culturally distinct, more numerous and definitely aggressive Trin. In the process, he rescues Dyana, a Trin woman, and they fall in love. But their liaison is seen as a misalliance by both their peoples, and Richius returns to his own land, to succeed to the throne, command larger armies and make an arranged marriage (as does Dyana). After too many pages--which seem not completely filled despite the intrigue and treachery everywhere, both magical and purely human--the lovers find themselves free and reunited. But they are still not considered an acceptable match (the racial tension between Nar and Trin forms a strong aspect of the world building here), nor have their enemies abandoned the field. Marco's first novel offers an unusual and imaginative mix of well-conceived magic with a technology that includes gunpowder, oil fuel and trench warfare. Its plot is rife with twists and intriguing kinks, and should captivate most fantasy fans, though those who squirm at its length must be forgiven. (Mar.)