By Lou Anders
Cover and Illustrations by Justin Gerard
Publisher: Crown Books
Out: 14th July 2015
The Book: From the author of Frostborn comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy for fans of Lloyd Alexander and Brandon Mull.
Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.
Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.
Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?
The novel includes instructions for playing the board game, Charioteers.
The Review: As with my review of the first book in this wonderful Young Adult series, Frostborn, a declaration: Lou Anders is an old friend, so I hope he will accept both bouquets and brickbats with his usual aplomb.
A second declaration: there are no brickbats.
As you’d expect from an award-winning fiction editor, Lou skilfully re-enters his carefully-constructed fantasy world of dwarves, elves, frost giants and more with consummate style, offering a second tale crammed with adventure, secrets and more than a touch of deceit. His central characters, especially the game-playing Karl Korlundsson, are further developed, and there’s plenty of Terry Gilliam-inspired humour throughout to entertain, as our heroes battle devious Dark Elves while on a mission from a dragon who insists they put their head in his mouth to gain some magical powers.
There’s plenty to enjoy about Nightborn, with new cities to explore and new characters, particularly the conflicted Dark Elf, Desstra, to meet. More importantly, Lou brings a sense of wonder to proceedings that often gets forgotten in many fantasy books insistent on making sure there are the requisite number of tongue tying character names, houses and so-forths to remember instead of telling a great story.
Lou also manages to bluff the reader with some mystery allies for Karl and Thianna (who has managed to get herself into a heap of trouble, but, it turns out, it’s troube for her captors!). Who are these secretive supporters of their cause to recover a dangerous relic capable of controlling dragons?
You’ll have to read Nightborn to find out. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
• Official web site: www.thronesandbones.com
• Lou Anders Official Site: www.louanders.com
• Thrones & Bones is on Twitter at @ThronesandBones