cover image The Amber Crown

The Amber Crown

Jacey Bedford. DAW, $18 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-7564-1770-3

Bedford (the Psi-Tech series) confidently mixes magic and romance in this spellbinding fantasy, which opens with the assassination of the Zavonian King Konstantyn. Lord Gerhard Zamoy swiftly seizes power and hangs Konstantyn’s council members. Valdas Zalecki, High Guard captain and Konstantyn’s friend, manages to evade this fate and vows to avenge his dead king. Now a fugitive, he flees Zavonia to seek help, and along the way, meets the Bakaishan witch, Mirza. Meanwhile, Konstantyn’s assassin, Lind, tries desperately to escape the city, but a new job pulls him back and leaves him deeply entangled in court politics. As the three cross paths, they discover a common enemy: the mastermind behind the assassination. Though some secondary characters remain sketchy, Bedford smoothly intertwines Valdas’s, Mirza’s, and Lind’s narratives as the mystery of Gerhard’s plans for Zavonia and its dark magic unfolds. Meanwhile, the sexual tension between Valdas and several female characters provides moments of respite from the action in multiple steamy scenes. Fantasy readers will find plenty to enjoy. Agent: Donald Maass, Donald Maass Literary. (Jan.)