Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker's pursuit of old enemy Viceroy Gunray leads the pair deep into interstellar space, to some well-drawn if unappetizing planets, in James Luceno's jaunty Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil. While the author does a good job of maintaining excitement without revealing any secrets of the forthcoming final Star Wars movie, this tie-in, unlike some other Star Wars novels, has no features to give it interest apart from its link to the popular film series. Agent, Eleanor Wood at Spectrum Literary Agency.(Del Rey, $25.95 352p ISBN 0-345-47572-0)
In Andre Norton and Lyn McConchie's The Duke's Ballad, the latest enjoyable entry in Norton's durable Witch World series, Aisling, a young half-breed witch, must rid her country of Karsten of the blight her brother's evil has spread. Teens will particularly appreciate this tale of magic-filled adventure, animal familiars and palace intrigue. Agent, Jack Sternig at the Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency.(Tor, $24.95 320p ISBN 0-765-30636-0)
The "scheming woman seeks to control powerful man" plot substitutes for anything truly new or surprising in Anne Bishop's Dreams Made Flesh, a collection of four novellas set in the realm of her Black Jewels trilogy (Daughter of the Blood, etc.). As always, the author's vision of the demands—and earthy pleasures—of powerful magic compels, but these fragmentary shorter works lack the depth to be found in her novels. Agent, Jennifer Jackson at DMLA.(Roc, $16 paper 448p ISBN 0-451-46013-8)
Out of the Immortal Night: Selected Works of Samuel Loveman, edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, gathers all Loveman's extant poetry and a generous portion of his prose. A correspondent of Ambrose Bierce, a close friend of H.P. Lovecraft and Hart Crane, the diffident Loveman (1887—1976) was more than "a mere hanger-on to the great," as Joshi persuasively argues in his introduction. (Hippocampus www.hippocampuspress.com], $15 paper 244p ISBN 0-9748789-4-4)
H.P. Lovecraft himself would have been delighted by R. Nemo Hill's The Strange Music of Erich Zann, a tale in verse based on HPL's "The Music of Erich Zann." The book includes an audio CD of the author reading the poem, which is composed in heroic couplets. (Hippocampus [www.hippocampuspress.com], $15 paper TKp ISBN 0-9761592-6-0)
Correction: Due to a production error, a fragment of a note for a Tor title was run into the end of the review of Overlook's The Warrior-Prophet (Forecasts, Dec. 6).