The Summer Palace
Tor, Jun 2008, $24.95
The Red Wizard continues his campaign to kill all other magical practitioners including his peers and the Chosen, those humans specifically selected by the Council of Wizards to protect people from magical abuse of power. However, ironically the Red Wizard is loved and cherished by his people who have flourished under his rule.
Of the Chosen only Erren Zal Tuyo the Sword still remains free. He knows he must confront the Red Wizard, but also realizes he can cannot win as the mage is extremely popular and everyone knows Erren as the assassin trying to kill their beloved leader. Innocent people will want him dead let alone professional assassins. Instead he mopes in Upland trying to survive while outside the control of the Red Wizard pondering what he should do. Meanwhile the Red Wizard plans to bring the fight to the last of the Chosen.
This intriguing fantasy is radically different in tone being passive as opposed to its much more action packed predecessors (see THE WIZARD LORD and THE NINTH TALISMAN). Much of the saga has Erren by himself in deep thought as to what to do next while going over the past to see if he could have done something different. Well written and interesting, but too reflectve in tone, fans of the Annals of the Chosen will be surprised and probably a bit disappointed as the brunt of the action is a rehash.