cover image Steel Magic

Steel Magic

J.L. Gribble. Dog Star/Raw Dog Screaming, $14.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1935738-85-5

Gribble’s lackluster second Steel Empires contemporary urban fantasy (following Steel Victory), a muddled coming-of-age tale, follows stripling warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas from the funeral of their former teacher through the various realms of their thinly sketched world, an alternate version of ours where the British and Roman empires are the dominant powers. The task they gingerly assume is to discover why there are suddenly very few new mage students or available teachers across the land. This quest takes them and their potty-mouthed elf friend, Syri, through strange lands and stranger contacts. Vampires are some of the good guys, including Toria’s adopted mother, and sexy werewolves are the snobbish British nobility. Kane, an earth mage, faces bouts of seasickness and Toria survives debilitating hangovers, all relentlessly depicted in depressingly limited Millennial lingo. Various kinky menages—not just à trois, but à quatre and perhaps potentially à cinq or more—are described in turgid prose. Pedestrian in concept and execution, this fantasy quest has less steel than boiled spaghetti. [em](July) [/em]