cover image Silverhand


Morgan Llywelyn, Michael Scott. Baen Books, $22 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-671-87652-4

Llywelyn (The Last Prince of Ireland) and Scott (Tales of the Bard) have set this entrancing novel, their first collaboration, in a semimedieval, far-future fantasy world. This concocted realm serves them exceptionally well as they layer shades of gray into the politics of their heroes while doing devilishly evil things with their amoral villains. Some of the most compelling evil magicians to appear in current fantasy are the Duet, a brother-and-sister team who use their incestuous relationship to raise tantric magic and control the powerful Voids. Youthful hero Caeled loses his mother in the wake of one such display. As the stunned boy wanders away from his devastated village, he is rescued by a monk who believes he may be the Spoken One, a prophesied hero who will be able to wield the magical implements of the Arcana. But before the monk can safely deliver Caeled to his superiors, the pair are attacked by a weredog and the boy loses an arm. The monks use long-dormant technologies to construct a prosthetic silver hand for the youth--a symbol that holds great mystical power. Caeled then sets out to seek the Arcana. This rich tale shows how good fantasy can be when its authors neither denigrate their audience's intelligence nor obscure their ideas with overwrought language and overblown symbologies. Major ad/promo. (Apr.)