Thursday, February 14, 2008

ARMED & MAGICAL by Lisa Shearin

In a bizarre twist of the way I do things, I read ARMED & MAGICAL by Lisa Shearin verrrrry sllllowwwlyyy. This is because I read it while moving house for the second time in four months. I’d read a page, pack a box, read a paragraph, chase children out of the nail can, read two pages, wolf down a corndog (yuck), read two paragraphs… Well, you get the picture and it ain’t a pretty one. Reading it did make the process of moving house more tolerable, I can tell you that.

ARMED & MAGICAL picks up where MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND left off. Remember Lisa’s debut novel? If not, scroll down to my Archives and find it under May 2007. We had a fabulous cyber-launch party, except that the Tribbles grew fangs and made a real nuisance of themselves.
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So now Raine Benares, an average elven sorceress, is bound to a rock which likes to suck the souls out of people. Yummy. Her previous day job was as a seeker. She found things and was really good at it. Unfortunately, she turned out to be too good at it because she found that dang rock, the Saghred. Now, everyone’s out to get her in a universe which combines the traditional trappings of the Fantasy genre, like elves and goblins, with Chicago gangsters of the 1920s, all told in a 21st century American voice.
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In addition to the main plot, Raine has two boy-toys, er, um, goblin-toys. No, wait, one’s an elf, right? Mychael and Tam aren’t exactly out to get her in the same way as everyone else. One chapter I was thinking, “Oh, yes! Go for Tam!” And the next I was like “Awww, Mychael is so sweet.” Then, “No. Tam!” And, “Wait. Mychael!” Because, you know, Love Triangles are never any fun unless the two guys are equally adorable.
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Raine also has a kid brother, well, an honorary kid brother. Piaras isn’t a kid, actually. He’s a young man - extremely cute and with a singing voice to die for, and in this case I mean that literally. Piaras has spellsinging ability of unusual magnitude for his age.
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In exchange for power, a previous ‘associate’ of the Saghred, Rudra Muralin, had fed souls to it regularly and now they both want each other back. Raine’s own father’s soul had been sucked by the Saghred after keeping it away from the bad guys for nearly a millennium. One of the closing events of MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND was Raine tricking another nasty, Sarad Nukpana, into touching the Saghred and getting sucked in himself.
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Now the Saghred is being kept under heavy magical guard on the Isle of Mid and so is Raine. She wants to be rid of her connection with the nasty old rock and the Conclave of Sorcerors there really want to help her out. But, that doesn’t stop the baddies from getting at Raine whom they see as the new bondservant of the Saghred.
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One of the pivotal scenes in the first part of the book is Raine getting sucked into the Saghred where Sarad tempts her to the Dark Side of the Force. Yeah, I know, I’ve watched the Star Wars original trilogy too much, but I was half-expecting Sarad to say, “Raine, I am your father.” And I expected Raine to respond with, “Up yours.”
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Raine’s smart enough and virtuous enough to know using the Saghred’s power comes with a terrible price, insanity and eventual death. But, when push comes to shove, it’s extremely difficult to resist using it.
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The Ante gets upped when Piaras accidentally puts the Guardians to sleep while singing. Suddenly, the baddies become extremely interested in him, because they've started their own collection of spellsingers and he would be quite a prize for it. Now, they’re after him AND Raine. And you can imagine how ticked off ‘Big Sister’ feels about that.
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I’ll stop with the details there and end with a quotation to give you a feel for the ‘voice’ of this book, because it’s really what sets it apart from other Fantasy novels.
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“Being a Benares, I’ve always been attracted to rogues. Kind of like a moth to flame. Most times I had the good sense to steer clear, but with Tam I’d come close to getting my wings singed more than once. Tonight I damned near got fried.”
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Thanks for another great ride, Lisa! Everybody look out for the cyber-launch party in April, ‘cause this little bad girl hits the shelves April 29th. http://www.lisashearin.com/
;)


EDIT to ADD: Ooops! Lisa Shearin's Cyber-Launch Book Party was in June 2007, not May.

6 comments:

Lisa Shearin said...

Kimber An, thank you for such a wonderful review! And I'm glad Armed & Magical gave you some laughs during your move. I can't imagine moving in the middle of an Alaskan winter (-12 degrees. Dang!) I'm REALLY looking forward to my cyber release party! ; )

Kimber An said...

You're welcome, Lisa.

Yes, it was a drag to move house at Below Zero temps, but our new home is soooo much nicer. I'm so glad we moved.
;)

Tia Nevitt said...

Nice job! We'll have to do a cross-blog something on the week of the release.

Laurie said...

Great review, Kimber. :) We'll be sure to mention the cyber-launch party on Toasted Scimitar.

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Tia and Laurie.

Hmm, what kind of cross-blog thing could we do on the release day? I shall wave my faerie wand and think deep thoughts inside my head about it.

Lisa Shearin said...

Oooo, cross blog! I like it!