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Trio of Sorcery Hardcover – November 9, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Powerful women solve magical mysteries in this trio of short urban fantasy novels from the enormously prolific Lackey (The Phoenix Transformed). Fans of the Diana Tregarde series will welcome prequel story "Arcanum 101," in which Diana, a Harvard freshman in the early 1970s, must secretly work as a sorceress Guardian and investigate a psychic involved in a kidnapping case. "Drums" returns to the setting of 1994's "Sacred Ground," where Native American sleuth and medicine woman Jennie Talldeer must find a way to deter an angry Osage ghost determined to claim a living bride. In the standout "Ghost in the Machine," techno-shaman Ellen McBridge moves between the real world and that of an online role-playing game to debug a magical monster that's not behaving quite as programmed. This volume is a worthy addition to the urban fantasy bookshelf. (Oct.)
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Romance novelist and modern witch Diana Tregarde last appeared in a Lackey novel almost 20 years ago. She returns in a story introducing three novella-length urban fantasies, all featuring female sorceresses. “Arcanum 101” eavesdrops on Tregarde’s neophyte days in the super-secret coven of Guardians. As a freshman studying at Harvard, Diana is solicited by an officer intervening for a distraught mother whose daughter has been kidnapped. In hiring a psychic to find her daughter, the mother certainly means well, but Diana’s intuition quickly exposes the psychic as a witch with diabolical ends. In “Drums,” shaman and private investigator Jennifer Talldeer must thwart an angry Osage Indian spirit pestering a young couple. In “Ghost in the Machine,” Ellen McBridge is a computer programmer and techno-shaman who discovers that a wendigo is killing everyone in a popular computer game and arming itself to transcend computer code and enter the real world. Lackey’s well-seasoned talents for good storytelling and character development are on full display here. --Carl Hays
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All I can say, is thank goodness she changed her mind! So here we have a new Diana Tregarde book, which is funny, as story-wise, it's the first one and set in the 70s--which I am old enough to remember and appreciate the fine details of. The novella length (almost half the book) was for this tale. Hopefully we will see more of her. I'd like to re-read the older stories, but woefully my paperbacks are locked up in storage for another year or three and the originals are not on the Kindle as yet--if they were this is a series I'd re-buy because this story is out! The paper ones were re-issued a few years ago and are obtainable, if anyone is interested in those.
The second story features Jennifer Talldeer--the main character from Sacred Ground. That was a stand-alone novel, and one I had wished for more stories. Now, 15 or so years later, I finally have it. Once again, this is a character I reminisced about when reading new books, this time like those of CE Murphy's Joanna Walker and others with the urban/shaman theme. Again, Mercedes Lackey was a few years ahead in terms of building a theme. In any case, this too was a nice story, very appropriate for the less-than-full-novel number of words. In contrast to the first story which have a history, this gave a follow up story for the characters...a 'where are they now', except the now is the mid 90s--right around the birth time of Amazon in fact. (Gasp! Life at the infancy of ebay too--which gets a mention).
The final story was an all new product--set in the current time with new characters. I basically started reading it to finish the book--hey I'd read the good ones right? Well, I ended up liking this one too...and very happy I didn't stop. Computer coding and magic...that's all I'm saying.
I got the sense with this book the characters were interesting to the author as well--and I hope she enjoyed them enough to give us more of all three. All in all, I'd give the 4.5 (or 9.125) if only I could use more than the standard 5 star vote! In this case I round up.
There was only one book with Jennifer Talldeer but I liked it and found "Drums" which takes place right after the events in that story to be interesting in addition to showing the evolving relationship between Jennifer and David.
The last story in the book introduced a new character, Ellen McBride, and presented a different take on magic in the 21st century, one that incorporated computers. I liked this new direction and enjoyed how the new technology was incorporated into the centuries old practice of magic .
All the stories were written in Ms. Lackey's usual great writing style with believable characters in interesting and suspenseful situations. I would recommend this book and look forward to further stories with these characters. It would actually be great to see a book where all three of them come together to manage a fearsome situation (given how competent they all are it would have to be a really serious baddie)
The second, "Drums," set in 1995, features Jennifer Talldeer, the Osage shaman and PI first introduced in the paranormal detective novel "Sacred Ground." Here she must face down an angry Osage ghost who is determined to make a young Chickasaw woman his bride.
"Ghost in the Machine," set in the present day, introduces a new investigator, Ellen McBride, who is a techno-shaman. In the course of a probe into some anomalies in a multiplayer online role-playing game, she confronts a dangerous Wendigo that is about to escape the virtual world and break into the real one.
This is a terrific read for aficionados of urban fantasy, paranormal mysteries, and cyber-thrillers. And especially for fans of Mercedes Lackey who have loved her earlier urban-fantasy detective tales.
The first story provides a sort of prequel to the Diane Tregarde series which ended all too soon (more, please?) and fills in some of the elements alluded to in other books, especially Jinks High.
Moving from the urban setting to Oklahoma we have a story of Jennifer Talldeer set shortly after the novel Sacred Ground. Lackey's knowledge of Native American values and myths allows her to create a compelling story in an environment less familiar to the bulk of SF fans.
I am familiar with all the Tregarde and Talldeer stories and found both of these stories a refreshing return to fictional universes I truly enjoy. I wasn't prepared for, as the Monty Python troupe said, for "Something Completely Different."
I am not a gamer, but have been a denizen of Cyberspace since joining my first CompuServe SIG in 1980. I have waited to see a compelling story combining wizardry and cyberspace from someone who understands both in "Ghost in the Machine." In this story Lackey answers the old saying "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" with "A lot of knowledge can be even worse."
If you enjoyed either the Diane Tregarde or Jennifer Talldeer stories, or any other sophisticated example of urban fantasy, you can't afford to miss this wonderful treat.