cover image The Storm

The Storm

David Drake. Baen, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8369-8

Though billed as a sequel to The Spark (2017), this above-average science fantasy adventure reads like the second part of a long series. The story is inspired by the 12th-century Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes, in which heroes faced all manner of fantastic challenges, so anything can happen in Drake’s far-future setting, where reality has been shattered and people live in little nodes of safety within the perilous Waste from which dangerous creatures sometimes invade. The Commonwealth of Mankind is attempting to reunite the isolated territories, and Pal, the novel’s young hero, is one of the Champions of Mankind who are sent out to settle feuds and subdue monsters. Pal also is a Maker, capable of studying and sometimes using scraps of ancient machinery, and while he gains knowledge to use in rescuing his friend and mentor Guntram from whatever superscientific mess the older Maker has landed in, Pal also opens intriguing possibilities to explore in future books. Counterbalancing the setting’s strangeness, Pal himself is thoroughly levelheaded and decent, the kind of hero readers will enjoy rooting for. This is an enjoyable exploration of a pleasantly peculiar world. (Jan.)