City of Jade: A Novel of Mithgar
by Dennis L. McKiernan
Review by Harriet Klausner
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462312
Date: 07 October 2008 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Legend talks of a City of Jade hidden in the jungle. It is probably more likely a myth than a real lost city, as no one has ever returned from questing for this fabled locale, though many in Mithgar have tried.
In the Final Year of the Fifth Era, with the Dragonstone War ended when the Black Mage God Gyphon was slain by the elf, passages have opened between realms and wards have been used to close those leading to and from the the creations of the late Dark God. In that seemingly peaceful environment, Elven Captain Aravan learns of the City of Jade and wants to find this precious legend. He brings together a crew of elves, dwarfs, men, and other species to sail into the sunset on the fabled Eroean. Accompanying him on his quest is his beloved mage, Aylis the seer. Even without Aylis' predictions, all of the crew of the Eroean knows the journey will be dangerous and few if any will return; they volunteer because the lure of adventure is greater than their safety; most used to a world at war.
As written in the afterword, the events in the City of Jade occur at the end of Silver Wolf, Black Falcon and the beginning of the Red Slippers: More Tales of Mithgar collection. The tale in some ways is more an interrelated anthology similar to the twelve compilations that make up the Red Slippers saga than a novel as much of the opening sequences are anecdotal individual entries rather than a cohesive story line. In fairness the background provides newcomers and long time fans a sense of time and place especially about what has been happening since the Dragonstone War ended and in turn sets the stage for the epic adventure that follows. Additionally, once the introductions to the key players and what has happened to them since the war's end is complete, the plot gels into a exciting sorcery adventure thriller with a raging Nunde the dark necromantic sorcerer lurking just over the horizons.
Aravan is a terrific swashbuckling hero as he cannot resist the lure of the lore. He brings together a crew of sailors and fighters because he knows this venture will prove lethal; he is unaware of just how ugly it will get when dark sorcery assaults the Eroean. Interestingly though the elven captain and his beloved seer remain powerful fascinating leaders and Nunde is even more dangerous with his Dark God dead and he is fueled by anger and vengeance. It is the new species like the tiny Pysk and his foxy steeds, and the Buccan pair that bring freshness to the plot although at times each can be overly precocious, sort of Jar Jar, to the darkness of the novel. Still the cast makes Mithgar seem a genuine realm where magic and the paranormal are the norm.
Although a stand alone with its opening sequences providing some background, newcomers should at least first read Silver Wolf, Black Falcon to better understand the references especially to the war. Long time fans will relish sailing the waters of Mithgar aboard the Eroean.