cover image Shadowheart


James Barclay, Pyr, $17 trade paper (398p) ISBN 978-1-61614-250-6

Picking up where he left off in November 2010's Elfsorrow, Barclay has no qualms about heaping more misery and catastrophe on his devastated creation. The world includes a complex and rational system of magic that requires the cooperation of mages. One of the colleges of magic uses the near-destruction of a rival as the impetus for a war that brings in all four colleges and leaves the world even more battered and chaotic than it already was thanks to a series of political wars. The Raven, a group of heroes trying to stop the destruction, is battered and damaged as well, its numbers greatly reduced. Frequent perspective shifts give a sense of urgency at the expense of allowing the reader to get fully invested in any single character. Battle scenes are well realized and varied, vital in a book consisting almost entirely of epic conflict. (Dec.)