The summon stone
Return to the Three Worlds
Ian Irvine’s “Three Worlds” fantasy cycle commenced with 1998’s A Shadow On The Glass, with numerous books following. The Summon Stone takes place midway through the cycle, a decade after The Way Between The Worlds, and brings back Karan and Llian, the heroes of the earlier books.
After a tumultuous war between human species from different worlds, Karan and Llian’s planet Santhenar is enjoying a hard-won peace – although the couple weren’t rewarded for their part in bringing it about. On the contrary, Llian, formerly a great “Chronicler” of history, is barred from his trade. Then Karan and Llian’s young daughter Sulien has nightmare visions of a new race of brutal otherworld invaders, about to break through to Santhenar – and for some reason they’re hellbent on killing Sulien. A narcissistic Santhenar lord, obsessed with Llian’s storytelling genius, begins his own campaign of conquest. And a malefic drumming, like an alien heartbeat, echoes through the land, driving people to madness and murder...
Irvine plunges into the action, with a commendable sense of high stakes and danger for our heroes. Karan and Llian may be wife and husband, but their relationship is strained from the outset, particularly when an old female acquaintance of Llian enters the frame. Plenty of new characters are introduced, including a callow boy archetype, two gifted siblings who are far too close to each other for comfort, and – the standout – a Bond-esque obsessive villain, who yearns for the perfect collection of masterworks and is willing to burn the world to secure it.
Later setpieces are often protracted and unconvincing. The invaders’ origins also seem daft. The writing feels far from literary, and the ending’s a total cliffhanger. But for all that, this is an aboveaverage epic fantasy. Andrew Osmond
Later setpieces are often protracted