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Lords of Terror    by Allan Cole & Nick Perumov order for
Lords of Terror
by Allan Cole
Order:  USA  Can
Zumaya, 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Dateline: August 13, 2004, Olympics Games, Athens, the opening ceremony, where leaders of two nations display a united front against the Cold War. Gunshots fire simultaneously, and two presidents are assassinated - American George H. W. Bush, and Russian Vladimir Putin. Dateline: One thousand years forward, the Cold War continues, a third force behind it - a demonic cabal of evil. It is the end of natural physics, and the beginning of a dominance by magic.

Dateline: 2006 publication of Lords of Terror. Welcome to an imaginative, mind-gripping world that challenges the reader to assemble pieces of a puzzle. A multitude of enemies vie for survival and power. Three agents, representing different organizations, come to a meeting of minds, compounded by personal attraction. Just as American and Russian authors, Allan Cole, and Nick Perumov, combined forces to write this unusual novel. Cole, the proud son of a (late) CIA operative, is a former investigative reporter. His published books include the science fiction series Sten, the Tales Of The Timuras fantasy trilogy, and his Vietnam War classic, A Reckoning For Kings. In 2004, Perumov, a microbiologist and physicist, was voted best European author and best Russian fantasy writer at EuroCon. His books have been translated into a dozen languages.

In Uttermost Space, entering the first phases of SpellDown, old Scratch (member of Engine Devils Local 666) maneuvers the HolidayOne honeymoon-liner in its last stretch to home base. Thousands of partying Russian and American couples prepare to enjoy a Costume Ball. Scratch welcomes the trip's ending and a long-overdue vacation. Engine Devils 'dislike things connected with human (softskins) masters. Yet they served them well ... as decreed in The Great Spell, cast a thousand years before'. As in a shadow, Scratch senses someone or something, lightly brushing by, and loses consciousness.

In one of the liner's compartments, a half Russian, half American ten-year-old accompanies his grandparents on their second honeymoon. Billy is a budding mage who can find lost objects. In a half-awake stupor, Billy senses a beast with slavering jaws, and throws out one of his spells to destroy it. On Russian battlestation Borodino, combat officer Igor Dolgov reports to Commander Rusinov that the HolidayOne appears to be a Class A destroyer, vixed as a civilian cruise liner. Igor depresses the firing knob, killing thousands. While one faction blames another, Billy Ivanov and Scratch, the lone survivors of the explosion, are under treatment in Borodino's Hospital Section.

Tough and unrelenting United World Police Major Tanya Lawson shuns magic, preferring the technological gadgets of centuries past. However, she has sorcerous power. Lawson and Ogre-Mage Kriegworm arrive at Borodino to interrogate Igor Dolyov, who takes full responsibility for the accident. Tanya replies, 'It was no accident'. Major Vlad Projogin, a top-agent of the Russian SPETZNAZ strike force, is a free fire stalker, who needs no one's permission to shoot when on a mission. When Vlad travels to Borodino to interrogate survivors and Igor, Lawson rocks his senses. Vlad also feels a presence, 'a vague shadow crawling on the very edge of his mind and sight ... aboard the battlestation.'

Davyd Kells is sent by his superior Father Zorza to interrogate survivors of the explosion, under the guise of a med tech. Davyd, too, feels 'a touch of immense fire' at the sight of Tanya Lawson. But he wouldn't dare an attempt to break through Lawson's armor without an entire heavy tank regiment behind him! Tall, powerful ogres Infeligo, Mamri, and the Council of Eight also choose one of theirs to infiltrate and hunt down the traitor amongst them, and to destroy Scratch and Billy. Later, as a military guard and his dog skirt the perimeters of Borodino, the ground shakes and heaves, and the fires and creatures of Hell arise around the battlestation, consuming all in the way.

The cast includes large beasts with scaly skin, who wear suits, and both humans and non-humans with sorcerous powers. Computers, cars, and the like are run by minute servants, including 'Brownies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Peaceful Spirits'. Readers who welcome the challenge of multi-layered writing, and keep-you-on-your-toes action, will enthusiastically absorb Cole's and Perumov's joint venture, a resounding story that combines espionage and warfare, science fiction and fantasy, earth and space.

Note: Lords of Terror can be ordered through Zumaya Publications.

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