Five Odd Honors
Tor, May 11 2010, $27.99
Only recently did college student Brenda Morris learn that The Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice existed based on what she thought were Chinese myths and that her ancestors crossed over from this alternate earth place (see Thirteen Orphans and Nine Gates). Although she has also learned she possesses the powers of the Zodiac Rat, her dad pleads with her to ignore her magical prowess and the encouragement of her Aunt Pearl the Dragon in order to return to school. He wants her to live a normal life anchored on this earth.
However, the Orphans-Exiles seize an opportunity to open a gate into the Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice in order to return with five of their dead so they can honor their late compatriots. However, once they open the ninth gate, the Thirteen Orphans are stunned as the Center is impenetrable and soon several are captured. On earth an assault of Pearl Bright the Tiger concerns Brenda who cannot get back into textbooks and lectures. When she learns what occurred in The Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice, her first thought is that of betrayal; her second rumination is that of mounting a rescue though her third consideration is what superior being could have achieved what has occurred in the Lands.
The third Chinese zodiac urban fantasy is a superb thriller in which much of the violence is off page as the heroine and others discuss what happened and how to react. Thus the story line is character driven with much of the action passively discussed not actively performed. This approach provides reflective insight into Brenda, her family, and the Orphans while also enabling the reader to better comprehend the Chinese zodiac although the minute detail can turn overwhelming.