Mixed Magics: A short story anthology for Chrestomanci fans

Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones

Mixed Magics (2000) is comprised of four short stories set in the fantasy worlds of Diana Wynne Jones's CHRESTOMANCI; an enchanter responsible for the proper use of magic wielded by the various witches, warlocks, sorcerers and enchanters prevalent throughout his world (and several others). Although the stories are readable enough by themselves, filled with Wynne Jones's trademark humour and originality, it's best if you're already familiar with her previous work in the series, these tales being filled with plenty of in-jokes and cameo appearances.

It starts off lightly with "Warlock at the Wheel", concerning a hapless warlock who inadvertently kidnaps a little girl and her dog after he steals a car. The most humorous of all four stories, it details his panic-stri... Read More

The Talismans of Shannara: Getting repetitive

The Talismans of Shannara by Terry Brooks

"Some of Us Listened to the Earth's Whisper..."

The fourth and final installment in THE HERITAGE OF SHANNARA quartet. The premise is that the Four Lands are dying under both the totalitarian Federation and the sinister Shadowen, and the shade of the Druid of Allanon has called together three scions who can put an end to the entropy. Par is sent in search of the Sword of Shannara, Walker to bring back the Druid Keep of Paranor, and Wren to discover the missing race of Elves and restore them to the Four Lands. As the story starts, all these tasks have been completed, though with a heavy toll. Walker is trapped in Paranor by four Shadowen assuming the shape of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Wren is now the untested Queen of the Elves, facing an approaching army; and Par still believes he is responsible for the death of his brother, unaware that Coll is alive and well, b... Read More

The Runes of the Earth: A mostly welcome return

The Runes of the Earth by Stephen R. Donaldson

Fans of Stephen R. Donaldson's earlier work in the Land will find much to like here. Much of what was so good in the first two trilogies is here: conflicted characters; examinations of power and guilt, sense of loss, familiar etc. That's both a positive and a negative, however, as there is a distinct sense of been there done that. Not overpowering, as the story does expand, deepen, and in general differ in slight, subtle ways from its predecessors. But the sense remains through much of the book, as once again the Land is under assault, once again characters are ignorant or unwilling, once again a character wrestles with use/control of power, once again a character is taken hostage, once again we deal with Stonedowners and Ranhyn and Bloodguard, once again Kevin Landwaster has lessons to tell us. Again, the book manages, I think, to evade this as a major pitfall, but one is willing t... Read More