cover image When the Heavens Fall

When the Heavens Fall

Marc Turner. Tor, $27.99 (544p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3712-2

Debut author Turner’s epic fantasy trilogy launch—heavily populated with warriors, mages, gods, fearsome creatures, and even an undead army—provides plenty of frenzy but little momentum. Mayot, a rogue mage, has stolen an ancient tome with the power to harness the dead; with differing motives, several players move from distant locales to reclaim it. Bits of backstory are draped on each character, but the bulk of the novel involves traveling, fighting a little, then traveling some more. Disaffected mage Luker’s journey with a military attaché who may be an enemy blurs with newly crowned king Ebon’s journey with a military attaché who may be an enemy. The necromancer Parolla is so poorly characterized that her third-act impact on the story is utterly bewildering. High priestess Romany, a delightful mix of ruthlessness and entitled haughtiness, serves the Spider, an indistinct deity whose role is never clarified. The story lines finally coalesce in one more massacre of undead extras amid blasts of magical fire and wind. Weary readers perplexed by the inexplicable resolution will have little reason to look for the sequels. Agent: Andy Zack, Zack Company. (May)