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by Edward Lazellari
A Tor Book, 2011, $24.99, 348pp
Release Date: August 30, 2011

A band of guardians from another dimension were sent to our world to find, protect, and serve a lost prince, but in a miserable fluke of the transport, they all arrived with wiped memories - strangers and orphans in a strange land. To the best of their abilities they are leading ‘ordinary’ lives, but their natures warp reality around them to a certain extent. Callum MacDonnell is a policeman with a family; a man of integrity, courage, and honor. Seth Raincrest is a trickster who seems to survive every situation, no matter how disastrous it proves for others. Daniel is in foster care, and no matter how hard he tries to do the right thing, violence erupts around him, overwhelming him and others.

Now a former ally, Lelani, has followed after to find and reactivate the guardians, but the whole situation is a mess, complicated by a rival group who have arrived with memories intact, even if their powers are somewhat abated by our world’s dampening effect on magic. That’s not too much of a problem if you also have brute strength and cunning on your side, and can coerce cooperation, as disgraced detective Colby Dretch finds out. Now it’s a race to locate the missing prince, and there are no rules.

This first novel straddles Young Adult and SF genres like a Colossus, which is not all that surprising, given Lazellari’s background as a writer (and artist!) for Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, and Jim Henson Productions. A blend of urban fantasy, romance and realism, this is the first volume of a projected series that should appeal to a wide range of readers. It isn’t often that a single book reminds me of both Tolkien and Steven King, for the story has epic resonances, even as the scenes and characterizations are entirely modern. ~~ Chris Paige

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