Steven Taylor has returned to the USA to retrieve Lessek’s key from his house but he isn’t the only one who has travelled through the portal between worlds. Nerak is hot on his heels and now it is not only his Eldarn friends who must fear the power of the evil sorcerer. Back in Eldarn, Mark, Gilmour and Garec are making their way to Sandcliff Palace to retrieve the third windscroll, hoping to find a weapon to use against Nerak. Meanwhile, Hannah and her companions are trying to find the portal so that she can go home, but Alen’s desire for revenge may hinder their plans and, when they get to Welstar Palace, they may find something that nobody expected.
I had a gap of about three months between reading ‘The Hickory Staff’ and ‘Lessek’s Key’ (books 1 and 2 in Robert Scott and Jay Gordon’s ‘The Eldarn Sequence’) and even this was too long for me to be able to remember who all the characters were and what they were doing. There are at least three strands of plot at any one time and at some points in the book this diverges into more as groups break apart and reform. I know many people who would be put off by this but I think it was definitely worth the effort to get back into it and, by the time I was 30 pages in, I remembered exactly why I’d loved the first book.
As the quote on the front cover says, this book is ‘classic portal fantasy’, following the adventures of people from our normal everyday reality as they cross over into another realm. It isn’t a new idea and nor, I am sure, will it be the last time this plot device is used, but that really doesn’t matter. What shines through is the detail of the fantasy world, the depth of the characters and an admirably twisty plot. It has managed to surprise me a few times, which isn’t something I generally expect from this type of fantasy as they do tend to follow common themes. What I do expect is an immersive and well thought out world populated with engaging characters and on both counts this series ticks the boxes.
This trilogy is shaping up to be a brilliant read and my only note of caution is that it would be wise to read them back to back so that the many characters and their actions remain fresh in your head as you start each new book.
(pub: Gollancz. 509 page enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK only). ISBN: 0-575-07810-3)
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk