cover image THE WOUNDED HAWK: The Crucible: Book Two

THE WOUNDED HAWK: The Crucible: Book Two

Sara Douglass, . . Tor, $27.95 (494pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0363-9

In Australian author Douglass's engrossing second volume in her historical fantasy trilogy (after 2004's The Nameless Day ), simmering conflict between the lower classes and the gentry bursts into open revolt and sweeps across 14th-century Europe. At the center of the clash is Thomas Neville, former Dominican priest and chosen favorite of the Archangel Michael, who has ordered Thomas to locate Wynkyn de Worde's casket and use the contents to help defeat the hordes from hell that have invaded the world. Thomas has set aside his calling to the Holy Church to better search for the casket, becoming companion to Prince Henry of Bolingbroke and enemy of Richard II of England, both big players in the unfolding drama. Douglass seamlessly fuses the period's class struggle for freedom against tyranny with a disturbingly vivid look at the ambiguous battle between good and evil. Those who know their medieval history may carp that she takes too many liberties with such figures as John of Gaunt and Joan of Arc, but all will applaud the way she avoids the dull middle-book syndrome that commonly afflicts such series. Agent, James Frenkel. (Jan. 1)