Saturday, July 7, 2012
Devil Town - M. Edward McNally
2012; 290 pages. Book #4 of The Norothian Cycle series. New Author? : No. Genre : Epic Fantasy. Overall Rating : 8½/10.
Turmoil flares across the Norothian continent. The Old Dragons are manipulating, the Ayzants are assimilating, the Codians are consolidating, and in Devil Town (neé Larbonne) the Demons are deploying.
Across the channel, in Martas, a new force arises - a pentad of Young Dragons. They are powerful and ambitious; and cause everybody else to quake in their boots, cloven hooves, and/or scales.
In order to survive, alliances must be forged. But with whom? No one is completely good and no one, not even the Devils, are completely evil.
What's To Like...
Devil Town focuses on the complex political maneuvering by the various Norothian powers after the nation-shattering fighting in the first three books. There is still plenty of action though, spread out evenly through the story, and commencing with a superb, scene-setting opening skirmish.
Devil Town also catches the reader up on almost all the characters encountered thus far. I counted 21 re-acquaintances, with 20 of them still breathing at the story's end. Add to this 5 new ones, and you have a busy tale. M. Edward McNally supplies some helpful back-story, but in truth, this is not a stand-alone novel.
There are more scene-shifts than usual for this series (which I like), and a kewl Faustian deal that just reinforces why I find Balan to be so diabolically charming. The pacing is crisp, and the ending, if not quite epic in scope, will have you checking the author's website to see how he's coming along on the next installment.
Kewlest New Word...
Imprimatur : an acceptance or guarantee by someone that something is of a good standard; a personal stamp of approval.
She sighed too loud, and the man swung his weapon toward her, calling, "Halt! Who goes there?"
"It is I," Nesha-Tari said quietly.
"I don't know anyone named Eye," the main (sic) said. (loc. 2177)
The legionnaires gripped the hilts of their swords though they did not bother to draw them as Zeb was unarmed. Zeb shouted Tilda's name on the run, then for lack of a better option he tried a slide at the legionnaires' legs. The old wooden floor was not exactly smooth, with some small cracks and irregularities to the fit of the planks. Zeb caught a trouser leg, which ripped up to the knee as he went into a banging tumble and barrel roll that left him flat on his back in front (of) the legionnaires, staring down at him wide-eyed.
"Really?" one of them asked. "You want to try that again, fellow?" (loc. 3096)
Devil Town sells for $4.99 at Amazon, the same price as book 2, Death of a Kingdom, and book 3, The Wind from Miilark. Book 1, The Sable City, is attractively priced at $3.99. Full Disclosure : The author generously gifted me a copy of this book for my enjoyment and review. Thank you, M. Edward McNally, sir!
"Loyalty and love must fade with time. ... Coins can always take a polish." (loc. 3295)
The novel's title is both catchy and a bit misleading, since we pass through there only once and that's fairly early in the book. Overall, Devil Town felt like an intermezzo between the national upheavals of the first three books, and what appear to be even grander clashes on the horizon.
But this doesn't make it quiet or boring; it just means you have a chance to catch your breath, count noses, and attend to political details (some of them quite nasty) before another tidal wave of epic events comes crashimg ashore.
8½ Stars. An excellent series continues. Subtract 1 star if you take it upon yourself to make this your first Norothian Cycle book.