Thursday, June 7, 2012

REVIEW: The Lurker War by Donald Allen Kirch

Last year's The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight was a book that I called "a wonderful piece of gender-bending fantasy . . . the kind of book that takes me back to the classic, pulp fantasy novels that I so fondly remember from my high school years," and which Samuel referred to as "a brilliant Dungeons & Dragonesque tale of grief, loss, retribution, and true love, set against a mythical background of Elfs, Dwarfs, Wizards and other beings too strange to describe."

The book began on a highly erotic note, almost coming across as a sexual parody of the genre, before eventually settling into its fantasy groove. Readers who found the initial sexual explorations to be a bit too much were strongly advised to stick with it, as there was a wonderfully exciting fantasy tale to follow.

With The Lurker War (Book Two Of The Nown World Chronicles), Donald picks up where he left off, firmly entrenched in the realm of traditional fantasy. While there are still some erotic moments here, they are very much secondary to the plot, making it a more accessible story to those squeamish readers, while still reminding the more daring readers of what they enjoyed about the first volume. Karen (formerly Ka-Ron) is comfortably settled into her femininity, pregnant for the second time in her new life, and on her way to becoming not a Knight, but a Queen . . . while her husband, Jatel, struggles to accept his new role as husband and King, instead of Squire.

This is very much a book about a world at war - a pointless, bloody, hopeless war in which friends and allies have been turned against one another by the Lurker parasites (think malevolent Tribbles with teeth!). Karen and her crew must survive capture by the enemy, free themselves from the world's most inescapable prison, make peace with ancient foes, find a way to reunite with their past allies, and (quite literally) save the world. What really sets this book apart from the first, though, is the deeper exploration of the mythology and history of the Nown world . . . complete with a cliffhanger encounter that promises big things for the next instalment.

More frantically paced than the first instalment, this is a book that almost demands to be consumed in a single reading. It's a hard story to put down, and one that ably delivers on the promise and potential of the first volume. All the character we came to know and love there are back - including a few welcome surprises - and the new characters, particularly on the villainous side, make for some great additions. There are still some interesting explorations of gender here, of course, even if they're not the focus on the book. I loved how the Dwarven females were exposed/reintroduced into society, and there were some interesting twists/reversals of gender roles and expectations that kept things fresh and interesting.

If you were left hanging after the end of The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight, then you won't be disappointed with The Lurker War . . . and if you haven't read either, then all I can say is "what are you waiting for?"

Available at Amazon and Kobo.

[Reviewed by Sally]

1 comment:

  1. Thank you all for such a wonderful review. Hope to hear back from many of you on this one. This trilogy is quite important to me!