Dark Thane by Miller Lau 
List Price: £7.99
Hardcover 608pp, (April 2nd 2002)
Earthlight; ISBN: 0743404017
Review by Iain Elmsley

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Talisker, Miller Lauís debut novel, was one of last years finest epic fantasy books to be published, clearly demonstrating how a sub-genre generally noted for its tiredness, could be powerfully revitalized. Rather than focus entirely on action, Lau brings a strong sense of characterization and world building as well as a sense of full on action.

Sixteen years after Talikser, Taliskerís children, Tristan and Regan are due to become the Thanes of Soulis Mor. However, Regan, already tainted by the shadow of Corvus, falls under the influence of Jahl, an advisor adept at manipulation. Having been cast out of Soulis Mor, Tristan learns the depth of Jahlís deceit and the low standing of the Thanes and vows to fight back. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, Nathan assumes control of the Children of the Deluge cult, soon becoming enthralled by a vision of their own supposed Messiah. Chaplin and Talisker must leave Sutra and confront the truth which underlies the appearance in Edinburgh, in so doing, making enormous sacrifices.

Lau makes no bones about the difficult situations and choices that must be made, delivering a solution which exacts its toll. Her characters are recognizably good and evil but also deliver strong personae to capture the reader. As in the last volume, each character must deal with their own problems eventually, there is no sidelining of issues. This is Lauís strength within the Sword and Sorcery field, as well as her ability to create a stunning world, where the landscape invokes a sense of grandeur whilst also interacting with the plot. The grandeur of Sutra offsets the mundanity of Edinburgh, each contributing to the novel, changing rhythm, yet always entwined.

Dark Thane continues the rip-roaring action of the Last Clansman series as begun in Talisker. Lau is developing as a stronger writer and she is certainly a voice to be mentioned in the same breath as David Gemell.

(Iain Emsley is the Group Book and Video Buyer for Forbidden Planet Ltd. he has also writes for Vector, Interzone and The Third Alternative.)

© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu