In The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, Kelsea, the Tearling’s Queen, has turned herself and the sapphires she controls over to her enemy, the Red Queen of Mortmesne (The Invasion of the Tearling). In the Queens’s dungeon, Kelsea experiences visions of the Queen’s betrayal and her kingdom’s future. “A touch above a lot of sword-and-sorcery fluff”, this is ”a satisfying close to a worthy yarn” (Kirkus Reviews). In The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell, Lord Uthred, half-Dane and half-Saxon, attempts to re-claim his Northumbrian fortress, Bebbanburg, which has been stolen long ago by his uncle. To do so, he must outwit not only his uncle but the Scots at Hadrian’s Wall, and Norseman who threaten his fortress from the sea. “Cornwell writes as if he has been to ninth-century Wessex and back” (Wall Street Journal).
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Quotable“The precise role of the artist is to illuminate that darkness, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of our purpose, which is to make the world a more human dwelling place.” James Baldwin