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The Lost Ones (The Veil, Book 3) by Christopher Golden
Review by Drew Bittner
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553383287
Date: 25 March 2008 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

It's all come down to this.

Oliver Bascombe and his sister Collette may be the Legend-Born, heroes of prophecy who will lead the Lost Ones (humans trapped on the wrong side of the Veil) back to the mundane world. The problem is, if they have magic, they have no idea how to wield it.

And that's bad, because they (along with Oliver's fiancee, Julianna) are prisoners of Yucatazca -- a kingdom about to wage war on the northern kingdom of Euphrasia. Backed by the power of Atlantis, Yucatazca's military juggernaut may be unstoppable ... with dire consequences for all on both sides of the Veil.

Thus begins The Lost Ones, Christopher Golden's final entry in this modern fantasy trilogy. The storyline roars toward a shattering conclusion as former friends come together to make a final strike against a treacherous enemy.

As Oliver and the ladies sit in jail, former allies are making their own plans for the war. Kitsune, the fox-woman, partners with the unreliable Coyote to stir up the ancient gods for one final battle, while Blue Jay and his lover Damia Beck serve King John Hunyadi of Euphrasia as his army mobilizes. The enigmatic Wayland Smith is pushing his own plans closer to fruition when he finds the lost prince of Yucatazca "safe" among the Atlanteans.

Oliver, Collette and Julianna contrive to escape and rescue their feckless friend Jack Frost, only to find the capital city of Yucatazca has already stirred itself toward insurrection. Questions are being asked about the king's murder at Oliver's hand, and citizens demand to know why the prince is not among them -- only messages delivered by suspicious Atlantean priests, backed by growing numbers of Atlantean soldiers.

Meanwhile, citizens of Twillig's Gorge join a militia assembled by Ovid Tsing. Ovid loses his mother to the horrifying Sandman (who now incorporates the soul of police detective Ted Halliwell). Halliwell struggles to overcome the Sandman's raging psyche, but fears his efforts will be for naught as he is made a helpless accomplice to murder after murder. The Sandman has a purpose for all the carnage: He wants to find and kill Oliver Bascombe, who defeated him once before.

Oliver and Collette unlock their magic, but it is Julianna who provides inspiration as the city of Palenque is consumed in rebellion. Fleeing for their safety, Oliver and his company confer with King Hunyadi -- and realize that their best hope of ending the war may be to find Prince Tzajin, rightful king of Yucatazca, before Atlantis succeeds in absorbing the kingdom. If that happens, the terrible sorcerer Ty'Lis may achieve his goal of killing the Borderkind, those legendary figures who can cross the Veil between worlds, and forever sealing all passages between.

But that won't happen if Oliver has anything to say about it. He just has to figure out what being a Legend-Born is all about, before it's too late.

Christopher Golden brings together the characters (and friendships) left scattered and broken at the end of The Borderkind, the previous novel in the trilogy. Oliver, Jack and Kitsune begin this story with their long friendship destroyed by betrayal and distrust; part of the narrative is the threesome figuring out whether they can mend these breaches enough to work toward a common good. Kitsune grows in self-knowledge tremendously through her association with Coyote (who also grows from trickster to full hero), while Jack Frost realizes that the expedient steps he'd taken previously were probably the wrong ones.

Oliver achieves his own personal journey toward heroism, finding the qualities inside himself that spark the magic he's inherited from his mother. It's a remarkable process, and Golden delivers powerfully in imagination and emotional body-blows as Oliver becomes who he was meant to be. He isn't lucky enough to be infallible, but that only makes him more human.

Although the story ends conclusively, Golden has left himself ample room to return to this setting if he pleases. There are definitely many heroic tales yet to be told, and Golden is the guy to tell them.

No war is fought without losses, and some of the losses herein become heartbreaking. Many of the supporting cast do not make it through intact (or alive), but Golden writes each character as if he or she is the hero of his or her own story -- a rare feat to achieve in any genre.

Fans of modern fantasy, especially fantasy that draws from the rich mythologies of world culture (such as Neil Gaiman's), will find this book well worth their time.

Recommended.

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