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A Mankind Witch (The Shadow of the Lion) Hardcover – July 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Freer's superior heroic fantasy novel, set in 16th-century Scandinavia, allies of a demon try to thwart Christian missionary-magicians from the Holy Roman Empire. Freer (The Forlorn) wisely concentrates on individual participants within this big struggle: a shipwrecked Barbary corsair, Cair Aidin, branded as a worthless thrall; a good-hearted but insecure princess; a spectacularly evil troll hag and her grendel son; and a team led by the Holy Roman emperor's nephew/secret agent. All these characters are credibly smart and quirky. Cair, for example, is a clever contriver of mechanical devices, so he stoutly refuses to believe in any of the magic taking place around him. When a sacred pagan token disappears and the princess is framed for its theft, the skeptical Cair pursues her out of love while agents of the Empire follow out of duty—into the clutches of the troll mother. Freer's people are sometimes mistaken and often stubborn but basically likable; he even presents them convincingly enough to get away with some outright sentimentality. Good characterization, ripsnorting action and an ingenious plot make this a feast for sword and sorcery fans. (July)
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About the Author
Dave Freer, author of The Forlorn (Baen) and of many articles in scientific journals, is an expert on sharks, an accomplished rock-climber, a wine-taster, and was an unwilling conscript in the "undeclared" South African-Angolan war. He has co-authored three popular humorous science fiction adventure novels with Eric Flint: Pyramid Scheme, Rats, Bats and Vats and The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly. He lives in Natal, South Africa with his wife Barbara, two sons, and several Old English sheepdogs.
Top customer reviews
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I'll let someone else do the book report. This is a really good book and blends Norse magic, mythology and even history into a well-crafted tale. I expect I will be reading this book many times. In spite of Manfred, Eric, Francesca and the Emperor, this really doesn't fit all that well with the rest of the series (that I have read so far). Which is a very minor cravat.
It's as if all the best parts of the "Shadow of the Lion" series had been condensed into one lovely, involved romp of a book. Not surprising, as (regardless of the order of their names) Dave Freer is the lead author in the series, with the others making the occasional contribution. This proves, once again, that Dave Freer is the best of that bunch. When he can play in the universe on his own, he is beyond compare. My favorite of all the books in the series.
I'd love to see Erik and Manfred (and Francesca!) again - but only if Dave Freer is allowed to handle their escapades solo!
An incredible solo novel in the midst of collaborations with powerhouses Eric Flint and Mercedes Lackey, it is a must read for those who have enjoyed the first two novels in the series as well as for those who haven't but are fans of mythology and/or alternate history.
The only thing wrong with the book is that it ended, which just leaves me wanting more.
What is very cool about this book is the way Freer simply drops us into the Milieu, without any explanation and avoids almost all infodumping throughout the book.
Like the first two novels, it is interesting on a different level if you know enough Original Time Line history to figure out who some of the characters are, like Loyola and his original band of Jesuits in the first two books, or Khaireddin Barbarossa in this one.
Even if you don't know any history, and are reading this book on the level of fantasy, rather than alternate history (both of which it supports famously well) you'll find lots of depth. Freer weaves both the Beowulf and Hamlet stories together to make a real adventure that races like the rapids in a river to its startling conclusion.
Read this book. This is Dave Freer's real breakout solo novel, and he deserves a much wider following.
The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar
A Mankind Witch is a breath of fresh air as it injects a cynic into a world obsessed with magic. The adventures of Cair as he exploits superstition and leverages technology against the mystical creates a running tension that is keeps the reader wondering how it will all pan out in the end.
Definitely a read worth owning.
Most recent customer reviews
Great action, dialog and drama. Freer does a marvelous job of depicting Norse living conditions and customs.Read more