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Knight of the Demon Queen
Barbara Hambly
Del Rey/Ballantine Books

Buy It? Sure.

Knight of the Demon Queen picks up soon after the end of Dragonshadow (see Winterlands review). Jenny and her son Isaac are still suffering from the aftereffects of their possession by demons, the combined horror and allure of that experience leaving both in a state near madness. When Isaac attempts suicide and Jenny seems not to care, it appears that hope is gone.

Meanwhile, John still dreams of Aohila, the Demon Queen he tricked. When a new plague appears among the people of the Winterlands, he knows who is to blame. She has a task for him; if he completes it, she tells him she will leave his people be. Knowing that demons are liars, he has no choice but to do as she bids, and departs on a journey into strange hells and even stranger worlds. Aohila even sends a travel companion along to keep him safe: Amayon, the demon who had once inhabited Jenny's body.

As he travels, and as Jenny and Isaac slowly begin to recover from their ordeals—although Jenny is still without magic— and attempt to unravel a mystery in Isaac's own dreams, all see unmistakeable signs of a demon war in the making, a war that will take place in human worlds, using human tools and costing uncountable human lives.

I've left quite a bit out of this plot sketch, because there are some surprises along the way that delighted me too much for me to ruin them for any other readers. A word of warning, however: this is not the final book in the series. In fact, Ms. Hambly has seen fit to leave her readers with a cliff-hanger to agonize over until the next novel arrives. So unless, like me, you have a hardcover fetish, you might want to wait a bit before picking it up.

Hambly continues to explore the dark atmosphere the later events of Dragonshadow demand, something of a change from her usual tone, and pulls no punches as she goes about it—the Dark have nothing on demons, apparently—but despite this book's ominous ending there is a renewed sense of hope for the reader. The characters have been changed by their ordeals, but they also display the human resiliance that is a hallmark of her creations. Her descriptions of landscapes and minor characters are deft and evocative as ever.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, aside from the frustration of realizing when I was four chapters from the end of the book that it wasn't going to be the end of the story. I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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Except where noted, all material on this site is © 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson