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April 15
New reviews in
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Illustrated Corner and
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Rocky Horror Picture Show

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On the Razor's Edge
by Michael Flynn
A Tor Book, 2013, $25.99, 349pp
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Here is the grand conclusion to a major story arc of Flynn’s Spiral Arm series of galactic SF that begins with The January Dancer and continues through In the Lion’s Mouth. There is certainly room for more sequels, but we are not, at the end, poised on a razor’s edge of suspense as we were with Lion.

When last we saw our protagonists, Donovan – the scarred man, the man of many names and personalities – was a prisoner in Gidula’s Stronghold, but still very much a player in the ongoing conflict between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery. After all, if you are a spy and an agent, sometimes a stronghold prison is the best place to be, for some things can only be learned when you are in enemy hands.

But now the Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr has beguiled away Donavan’s daughter, the Harpist Mearana, to accompany her in an attempt to rescue him; and the Francine Thompson, better known as the Bridget ban, has called to her aid many fellow Hounds to rescue Mearana. Thus are many men and women, heroic all, drawn to the center of things: some for love, some to strike a blow against the Confederacy, and some for treasure, for Ravn has proven to Bridget ban that technological treasures, such as cloaks of invisibility, exist to be found and freed from the keep of the Confederacy. And what Hound worth his salt would not risk his life for one of those causes?

The scene in which the Hounds are winnowed was probably my favorite in the whole book, because I like tests and subtexts, but what follows lives up to and transcends that introduction. Not everyone who goes finds what they set out to find, and not all the ones that beg off disappear from the story, so keep all of them in mind as the adventure winds its way to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion, as Mearana as Telemachus, Francine as a much more proactive Penelope, and Ravn as Athena rescue Donavan, who is trying to rescue much more than himself. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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