Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Shadow Raiders by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes
Shadow Raiders is the first book in a new series by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes which is set in the world of Aeronne, where continents are islands floating on gaseous cloud masses called The Breath.
Shadow Raiders is a grand adventure with spies, assassins, dragons, demons, a religious brotherhood and a Cadre of the Lost, all seemingly working towards and against the same goals at once.
Mysteries abound. A Master Assassin guards a pewter tankard and kidnaps it's impoverished maker. One hundred nuns are brutally murdered, their bodies all but devoured at a remote abbey. Someone called the Warlock distracts a powerful priest at just the right time. There are hints that all magic could be destroyed as if it never existed in the world.
At the heart of the novel are a wide array of characters.
Henry Wallace, the assassin, dotes on his wife and soon to be born child.
The grumpy priest Father Jacob misses nothing in his investigations. Something of a bad tempered Columbo, perhaps.
Brother Barnaby, my favorite character, is a humble monk whose mission in life is to serve God and Father Jacob. He trails after Jacob, blanching at the terrible sights he sees, yet he faithfully records everything on his portable writing desk. He is an extraordinary healer and his compassion for all things is unparalleled.
Rodrigo, who at first seems like comic relief, turn out to have quite a bit of depth.
At the heart of Stephano's life is the tragic story of his parents who were unable to find even a moment's happiness. His father executed, his mother a cold calculating spy, Stephano longs for:
"...the love of all that is holy, just give me a straight up, stand-up sword fight! I hate court intrigue and all the closet-hiding, eavesdropping, secret-liasoning, lying and manipulating, who's-watching-who bastards that bow and scrape and simper as they slip arsenic into your claret. You can't tell your friends from your enemies from one day to the next. What the hell is wrong with you people?"
Practical Stephano, former captain of the disbanded Dragon Brigade is truly surrounded with a Ludlum-esque amount of intrigue at every turn. It seems that everyone he knows sees the intrigue or is involved in it. Stephano looks for the obvious explanation that never comes.
Volume one of the Shadow Raiders presents a rich world, great characters, and plenty of action. Here's hoping the sequel is well under way.
Shadow Raiders will be published by DAW Books in May 2011.
Margaret Weis on the web: Margaret Weis Productions (Where they describe Shadow Raiders as a military fantasy, but I would call it action, adventure, romance!)
Margaret Weis on wikipedia with a bibliography of her work.