by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Cover Artist: Charles Bernard
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Wildside Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781434442444
Date: 08 July 2014 List Price $13.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Not everything is right in Ethshar of the Rocks. Actually, there isn't much going right in other places either. Apprentice Wizard Kilisha is nearing the end of her term, but hasn't learned as much as she thinks she can handle. When a spell goes awry, her master goes still and the furniture goes out. Her job is to put things right. If only she can figure out a plan.
Kilisha would normally go to the Wizard's Guild, but they are busy with a bigger problem, a rogue magic user that is killing wizards, witches, and other magicians. Those events are detailed in The Spell of the Black Dagger an earlier Ethshar novel. So, left to her own devices, she must find the missing furniture and put everything back together with a complex spell she has never attempted.
This is a reprint of the 2002 novel set in the Magical World of Ethshar. It is a fun and whimsical world. There are rarely truly evil antagonists. In this novel, there isn't really an antagonist, there is only a series of obstacles all created by one little mistake caused by an overzealous agent and a magical creature. I enjoyed this novel the first time I read it over a decade ago, and enjoyed it again upon my rereading the story.
The Ethshar series is a rarity. No publisher truly loved it, but the fans do. It has been kept going by a series of funding goals paid by fans to get the next chapter written and published online. I am glad that Lawrence has been willing to find a way to keep bringing his fans additional tales.
I first read The Misenchanted Sword when I was in college. The art drew me to it, but the story left me wanting more. I have looked forward to each new release, and even donated to make sure one of the novels got published. The aspect of the series that I find fascinating is that most stories start with something going wrong. Wizards although powerful, make mistakes. There is no Gandolf, but there are apprentices who left without masters become more.
If you are after a gritty fantasy, don't look here. But if you want a quick read, a few laughs, and imperfect characters and situations, the Ethshar Series is for you. Each novel in the series is a standalone, but they do build upon each other. Several characters are recurring and make cameos at different points. There are several long goings stories that have only recently come to some conclusion, but each novel tells its own tale. In this case, reading The Spell of the Black Dagger allows readers to understand the true fear the all magic users are experiencing because of the killer. But this novel is written so that you do not need to know the exact material in the other novel.
From: Drew Bittner:
Great review, Bill! I love the Ethshar series and am glad that it has managed to keep going. Re-releases like this only make it easier for new readers to find and enjoy this series.