cover image Weight of Stone

Weight of Stone

Laura Anne Gilman, Gallery, $24.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4391-0145-2

The slow-moving middle book of the Vineart War trilogy (after 2009's Nebula-nominated Flesh and Fire) continues the tale of student wine-mage Jerzy and his companions: the noblewoman turned warrior Mahault, the trader Ao, and Kaïnam, the prince of a hidden island. What was once but a hint of corruption in the vines is now clearly an intentional despoiling. Jerzy must deny his solitary homebody nature to take ship for distant lands, dodging undead sea serpents, the followers of Sin Washer, and the corrupted magic of the vines. Gilman's intriguing and innovative system of magic based on the art of winemaking is deepened and clarified, which will delight fans of the first book, and plenty of action sequences keep things moving. However, her characters are blasé and self-deprecating to the point of tedium, diminishing the emotional effect of the otherwise suspenseful tale. (Oct.)