25 May 2009

Review: Companions on the Road

This book features two short narratives--Companions on the Road and The Winter Players--set in undefined fantasy realms. Companions on the Road begins at the end of a long military campaign, the first, the warrior Havor has just finished a campaign, when through a series of events, he joins with Feluce the rogue and Kachil the brigand to seek out treasure hidden in the dungeons of Avillis. But instead of a lengthy dungeon hack, the three promptly find the treasure they are seeking. And that's when the story really gets going. The three soon learn that they are being followed by something all of their battle experience has not prepared them to face, something that stalks and kills as subtly as it does relentlessly. Lee combines heroic fantasy with horror elements in a tense race against time.

The second story, The Winter Players, features the priestess Oaive, who guards the Mysteries of the Shrine. One day a wolf-like stranger comes to town, offering to buy one of the objects, which Oaive refuses to do. When the stranger returns, a confrontation ensues in which she learns that the stranger is more than he appears to be. Difficult choices and a perilous chase ensue, as the stranger leads Oaive onward towards an even greater danger. While Companions wove horror elements into its fantasy tale, Players' fantasy incorporates questions of free will and destiny, endless cycles, and a feel for the folklore of lonely fishing villages.

While slightly different in theme, both or excellent works of fantasy, told with Lee's consummate skill for character, setting and pace.

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