Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Keep of Fire

Mark Anthony
Fiction, Fantasy
Second in series of six

It's interesting to read customer reviews of Mark Anthony's books, because people either love his work or hate it. There's very little in-between. That said, I think that the books gain momentum as the series progresses and that Anthony's writing style is suited to the subject material. His handling of characters, particularly in interaction and dialogue, is increasingly similar to David Eddings, but in my view that's a good thing. (I certainly don't read Eddings for original plots.)

In this second book, Travis Wilder has returned to Earth while Grace has remained behind on Eldh. Even though Travis has slipped back into his life rather easily (it's one of those towns where so many people end up when they're escaping their pasts that people don't ask questions) there are indications that all is not well. A man comes to his bar and bursts into flame; there's the thoroughly creepy corporation Duratek, and a mysterious plague starts appearing - on both worlds.

And you get your first hints that Travis is the focus of a prophecy that says that he will destroy the world...

One of the most original aspects of this series is the degree of interaction between the worlds. Most series simply use one world as a stepping platform for the other, a sort of shorthand to get the reader to identify with the characters. Moreover, when the protagonists are given magical capabilities, their first instinct is to not want it. I've read several complaints about such "whininess" but being afraid of power is a very human reaction.

My one complaint about this series is the way that Anthony draws out certain revelations about the protagonists. It plays very well cinematically - one can almost see the fragmentary flashbacks as they are described - but a reader occasionally gets the sense of just tell us already! Still, this is a nice continuation of the series, and one that whets your appetite for more.


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