The sum­mon stone

Re­turn to the Three Worlds

SFX - - Reviews - You can read the first two chap­ters of The Sum­mon Stone on­line at Ian Irvine’s web­site:­mon­stone.

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

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