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Hammer of the Earth    by Susan Krinard order for
Hammer of the Earth
by Susan Krinard
Order:  USA  Can
Luna, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In Shield of the Sky, Rhenna of the Free People and Cian (one of the last surviving shape shifting panthers) traveled together to gather allies to topple the growing power of the Stone God. (Dedicated followers are known for the red stones they hold and the dangerous power that emanates from them.) Rebel Tiberian leader Quintus joined them. He was betrayed and captured by his brother, King Nicodemus, and soon found himself embroiled in new intrigues and machinations in the kingdom of Karchedon.

Their quest continues as Rhenna, Cian and the shaman Tahvo seek the Hammer of the Earth, said to be one of the keys to destroying the Stone God. They brave months of traveling deserts, swamps and mountains to find the fabled Hammer. They must also master the many traps set by the Exalted Ge. But even if they defeat the goddess, can they trust each other once the Hammer, and the one who is destined to wield it, has done its work? There are also others who follow them; creatures created by the High Priests to sabotage their quest at every turn. They are the Children born of the Stone and who harbour little or no will of their own. But Yseul is different; she is also part of Cian and once she frees herself from the power of the Stone, and the Priests' will, she begins to rise to her full and deadly potential and allows nothing to stand in her way.

In her Author Note, Krinard says that Hammer of the Earth 'deals with many cultures in the continent of Africa around 290 B.C.E., when little was known about the vast expanse of wilderness south of what is now called the Sahara Desert ... the ancient Greeks simply referred to Africa as Libya, which was their name for the northernmost portion occupied by subjects of Carthage and the tribes known as the Numidians or Berbers'. Using this fascinating history of past or extinct cultures, (like the Amazon warrior women), Susan Krinard does a splendid job creating her dangerous and magical world. Interesting and multi-layered characterizations are synonymous with Krinard's work and again shine here. She includes plenty of sub-plots and political intrigue to keep readers guessing and eager to know what will happen as Rhenna, Cian and Quintus continue their quest to overthrow the Stone God.

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