cover image Air and Darkness

Air and Darkness

David Drake. Tor, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2081-0

Drake concludes his Books of the Elements series (after Monsters of the Earth) with this involved and intriguing fourth tale of interwoven heroic journeys, both in the Waking World and in the Otherworld. The book opens in Carce, a fictional city and empire that takes the place of Rome, with mater- familias Hedia participating in a rural family rite. She is observed both by her young-adult stepson, Varus, and a contingent from India who have come to plant a vine. When the Indians walk through a mysterious red lens in the air and disappear, Varus and Hedia follow. Soon after, Varus’s 16-year-old sister, Alphena, and friend Corylus mount a search for the missing. The travels of all four diverge and intersect, with time spent near Carce, in India, and in the mystical realm of the Otherworld. Magical creatures and artifacts are sprinkled along the way as the heroes must counteract the threat of the chaotic revelry of Bacchus and the frightening scourge of the Blight. The whole tale strongly recalls that of Odysseus and other mythological travelers through underworlds, and fans of such stories will enjoy Drake’s take. (Nov.)