cover image Monsters of the Earth

Monsters of the Earth

David Drake. Tor, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2080-3

The strong third installment of Drake’s Books of the Elements (after Out of the Waters) pits two powerful magicians against each other, catching the series protagonists—scholarly youth Varus; amazonian Alphena; their beautiful and fierce stepmother, Hedia; and Varus’s soldier friend, Corylus—in the middle. To save the world from the Worms of the Earth that would destroy it, the heroes’ formidable magical gifts and mundane talents are tested as they make perilous journeys through other worlds and battle supernatural terrors. Drake slows down the beginning with an excess of exposition, but once the setting and backstory are established, any reader can enjoy the appealing cast of characters and Drake’s vividly imagined fantasy version of the Roman empire, where menageries feature “scaly apes” purchased from the Nubians, and magic mirrors and blood rituals provide gateways to fantastical realms. (Sept.)